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Germany Falls Completely To Davos

Germany Falls Completely To Davos Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog, If anyone was under any illusions that Germany wasn’t completely under the control of the Davos Crowd then I think this article from Politico should burn that perception into your retinas. The article details what’s in the new German government’s agreement between the parties. It lays out the goals of the coalition as well as the roadmap for its policy priorities. In short, this is literally a laundry list of everything Davos has been demanding and it ensures the complete neutering or submission of the FDP’s Christian Lindner to the Davos agenda. I’m not going to go through them all point by point, the Politico article does that well enough. What’s important here is that in light of the media release of OmicronVID-9/11 that the new German government is keen on serving its Davos masters agenda fully. Even though OmicronVID-9/11 looks to be the mildest and least interesting strain of COVID-9/11 that isn’t deterring European governments from announcing enforced vaccination programs, including from Germany’s new, fragile coalition. NEW - Designated Minister of Justice, Buschmann (FDP), wants to have the parliament vote on compulsory vaccination for the population in Germany. — Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) November 29, 2021 This tweet confirms that Lindner fully caved here. New Chancellor Olaf Scholz and a majority of state Presidents are pushing this legislation into the Bundestag as I write. Sadly, no one should really be surprised by this. While I hoped Lindner would be the thorn in Davos’ side in Germany, it doesn’t look that way at all. This cave was presaged by the ‘retirement’ of uber monetary hawk, Jens Wiedmann, as President of the Bundesbank ‘to spend time with his family.’ Yeah, pull the other one Jens, it plays “Jingle Bells.” The best Lindner can do under the circumstances is slow the roll out of this but he won’t do it now unless this compulsory vaccination program pushes through the Bundestag and is deeply unpopular with German voters. But, back to the coalition agreement. This is a document that reads like a German takeover of the entire continent. And I guess that was the bribe offered the FDP to go along with this. On the surface it cements the idea that Germany is in charge of the EU’s evolution from a collection of independent states into a full political and fiscal union which supersedes all national government considerations. But, at the same time it will further erode any sovereignty left in Germany, as well as any other EU member state. Davos is clear about what the plan here is, full evolution of the EU into a transnational bureaucratic superstate with zero direct accountability of its leadership to the people. Expecting this coalition to back down, for example, on “Rule-of-Law” issues with Poland and Hungary is a fantasy.  If anything, now Berlin is giving Brussels a blank check to go after these two countries harder than ever. And the clincher to that argument is in these two provisions highlighted below: More broadly, the three parties set the highly ambitious goal of changing the EU’s treaties. The deal says the ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe — a discussion forum for possible EU reforms — “should lead to a constitutional convention and the further development of a federal European state.” That stance won’t go down well in some other EU capitals like Warsaw or Budapest, which would likely veto any such moves. On foreign policy and defense, the treaty demands a reform of the EU’s foreign policy division, the European External Action Service. And it pushes the EU to move away from requiring unanimity for all foreign policy moves — a barrier the bloc has struggled to overcome on basic matters like issuing statements on China’s crackdown in Hong Kong. Moreover, to sell this transformation into a depraved technocracy, the Germans will push for more direct democratic ‘elections’ across the entire bloc to decide on leadership within the European Commission. Look everyone! Democracy! This is simply a stalking horse for getting further political integration as the national governments still control who represents them on the Commission. Since, as we’ve seen time and again, Davos and the EU are in full control of the party apparatuses in each major country and the people’s loyalty so split up across five to seven parties in each of these countries, elections themselves are a complete joke since the coalitions that end up ruling look nothing like what the majority of the people actually voted for, c.f. Italy, Chechia, Austria. Davos controls the governing coalitions in every country other than Hungary and Poland. This is an illusion of more democracy and furthering ‘European values’ while cementing total control within the Brussels bureaucracy. The most insidious thing in the document to me is Germany’s call for ending unanimity within the European Council on foreign policy matters.  This is where both Hungary and Poland have been able to fight off the worst advances by Brussels for years and retain some semblance of independence. By holding EU foreign policy hostage multiple times in recent years, both countries have been able to slow down and/or force course corrections onto Brussels while retaining some semblance of their autonomy. These have been attrition moves by Prime Ministers Orban and Morawiecki hoping to outlast the EU while popular uprisings against Brussels matured. But Poland has repeatedly betrayed its Visigrad neighbors with its virulent Russophobia which the Eurocrats and the British have used time and again to their advantage. The Poles continue to play footsie trying to play the EU off Russia to get what they want, but all that ends up happening is they bind themselves tighter in the EU’s geopolitical Chinese finger trap while alienating the Russians even further. If the Germans are able to push this through, by the complete rewriting of the European Treaties as advocated by this coalition agreement, then during their time in office they will have completed the transformation of the EU into the EUSSR for all intents and purposes. This agreement is worse than any version I could have expected given the FDP’s involvement in this.  The pressure on Lindner must be immense and he likely went along with this, like many, hoping he can at least slow this down by withholding the purse strings. With AfD not rallying into the September elections, there simply wasn’t the political will to oppose what is happening at this point. That may change in 2022 as things progress from here so German polling will bear very close scrutiny. That said, I suspect this agreement will go down very well with German voters as it looks like one in which Germany’s power within the EU, which they are still overwhelmingly in favor of, expands greatly. Notice, however, how quickly Olaf Scholz, the new Chancellor, after rejecting Merkel’s call for new lockdowns over COVID-19 last week and looking surprisingly independent, changed course with the release of OmicronVID-9/11 this week. In the end, this is close to the government Davos wanted.  The FDP can still be a wildcard here depending on how the polls in Germany shift over the next six months. But it looks pretty obvious at this point there is no will to move against the Davos agenda of crashing the European economy and destroying capital formation absent a full takeover of EU institutions first. The dangerous buildup of tensions in Ukraine with Russia over the breakaway republics of the Donbass is inextricably linked to this shift in Germany’s governance. As are the wranglings over the Nordstream 2 pipeline, which the Scholz government is in favor of. As always, the EU and Davos want Russia as their energy supplier but as a vassal not as a partner. If anyone is using Nordstream 2 as a political tool over the rest of Europe it is Germany, not Russia, as they will control the distribution of gas internally after Nordstream 2 is live, not Russia. They will use that as a cudgel to get through many of these policy prescriptions. I am still convinced that Nordstream 2 will be live, delivering gas soon. It may take further negotiations to get it done but it will happen. Don’t discount Germany leaking the letter to the U.S. Congress lobbying them not to further sanction the pipeline because it will do irreparable damage to U.S./German relations. Whether morons like Ted Cruz (R-TX) finally get this or not is still unknown. With the power vacuum at the top of the U.S. political system, where the Neocon Flying Monkeys are being allowed to bring us to the brink of a NATO war with Russia over Ukraine, all bets are off as to what happens next. I still feel a real sovereign debt crisis is on the horizon and with FOMC Chair Jerome Powell putting the final nail in the coffin of the “transitory inflation” narrative, it’s clear that the U.S. political faction hostile to selling the country out to Obama and Davos are winning.   And because of this the new German coalition staking their flag in the ground saying, “if EU integration is going to happen, it’s going to happen somewhat on terms we control,” may actually be too little, too late. Lindner may not be privy to everything going on here either. If he isn’t aware of the nuances at play it may explain why he went along with this insanity. Once he, like Powell and a few others here in the U.S., get a sense of what’s really going on, what the real plan is, he may pull out of this coalition during the height of the debt crisis in2022. In fact, a collapse of this government could be the catalyst for the very debt crisis we’ve been preparing for.  But for now, I’d consider Germany Davos Occupied Territory completely and Germany as an economic powerhouse of any import a thing of the recent past. *  *  * Join My Patreon if you don’t want to fall. BTC: 3GSkAe8PhENyMWQb7orjtnJK9VX8mMf7ZfBCH: qq9pvwq26d8fjfk0f6k5mmnn09vzkmeh3sffxd6rytDCR: DsV2x4kJ4gWCPSpHmS4czbLz2fJNqms78oELTC: MWWdCHbMmn1yuyMSZX55ENJnQo8DXCFg5kDASH: XjWQKXJuxYzaNV6WMC4zhuQ43uBw8mN4VaWAVES: 3PF58yzAghxPJad5rM44ZpH5fUZJug4kBSaETH: 0x1dd2e6cddb02e3839700b33e9dd45859344c9edcDGB: SXygreEdaAWESbgW6mG15dgfH6qVUE5FSE Tyler Durden Thu, 12/02/2021 - 03:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 2nd, 2021

Futures Tread Water With Traders Spooked By Spike In Yields

Futures Tread Water With Traders Spooked By Spike In Yields After futures rose to a new all time high during the Tuesday overnight session, the mood has been decided more muted after yesterday's sharp rates-driven tech selloff, and on Wednesday U.S. futures were mixed and Nasdaq contracts slumped as investors once again contemplated the effect of expected rate hikes on tech stocks with lofty valuations while waiting for the release of Federal Reserve minutes at 2pm today. At 730am, Nasdaq 100 futures traded 0.3% lower amid caution over the impact of higher yields on equity valuations, S&P 500 Index futures were down 0.1%, while Europe’s Stoxx 600 gauge traded near a record high. The dollar weakened, as did bitcoin, while Brent crude rose back over $80. “The sharp rise in U.S. yields this week has sparked a move from growth to value,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda Asia Pacific. “Wall Street went looking for the winners in an inflationary environment and as a result, loaded up on the Dow Jones at the expense of the Nasdaq.” Concerns related to the pandemic deepened as Hong Kong restricted dining-in, closed bars and gyms and banned flights from eight countries including the U.S. and the U.K. to slow the spread of the omicron variant. Meanwhile, a selloff in technology stocks extended to Asia, where the Hang Seng Tech Index tumbled as much as 4.2%, sending the gauge toward a six-year low. Traders are now caught in a quandary over deepening fears on global growth combined with a faster tightening by the Federal Reserve. “Earlier we thought that rate hikes wouldn’t be on the table until mid-2022 but the Fed seems to have worked up a consensus to taper faster and hike sooner rather than later,” Steve Englander, head of global G-10 FX research at Standard Chartered, said in a note. “But we don’t think inflation dynamics will support continued hiking. We suspect the biggest driver of asset markets will be when inflation and Covid fears begin to ebb.” Data on Tuesday showed mixed signs on U.S. inflation. Prices paid by manufacturers in December came in sharply lower than expected. However, figures showing a faster U.S. job quit rate added to concerns over wage inflation. With 4.5 million Americans leaving their jobs in November, compared with 10.6 million available positions, the odds increased the Fed will struggle to influence the employment numbers increasingly dictated by social reasons. The data came before Friday’s monthly report from the Labor Department, currently forecast to show 420,000 job additions in December. In premarket trading, tech giants Tesla, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices were among the worst performers. Pfizer advanced in New York premarket trading after BofA Global Research recommended the stock. Shares of Chinese companies listed in the U.S. extended their decline after Tencent cut its stake in gaming and e-commerce company Sea, triggering concerns of similar actions at other firms amid Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on the technology sector. Alibaba (BABA US) falls 1.2%, Didi (DIDI US) -1.8%. Here are the other notable premarket movers: Shares in electric vehicle makers fall in U.S. premarket trading, set to extend Tuesday’s losses, amid signs of deepening competition in the sector. Tesla (TSLA US) slips 1.1%, Rivian (RIVN US) -0.6%. Beyond Meat (BYND US) shares jump 8.9% premarket following a CNBC report that Yum! Brands’ KFC will launch fried chicken made with the company’s meat substitute. Recent selloff in Pinterest (PINS US) shares presents an attractive risk/reward, with opportunities for the social media company largely unchanged, Piper Sandler writes in note as it upgrades to overweight. Stock gains 2.3% in premarket trading. Senseonics Holdings (SENS US) shares rise 15% premarket after the medical technology company said it expects a U.S. Food and Drug Administration decision in weeks on an updated diabetes- monitoring system. MillerKnoll (MLKN US) shares were down 3.1% in postmarket trading Tuesday after reporting fiscal 2Q top and bottom line results that missed analysts’ estimates. Annexon (ANNX US) was down 23% postmarket Tuesday after results were released from an experimental therapy for a fatal movement disorder called Huntington’s disease. Three patients in the 28- person trial discontinued treatment due to drug-related side- effects. Wejo Group (WEJO US) shares are up 34% premarket after the company said it’s developing the Wejo Neural Edge platform to enable intelligent handling of data from vehicles at scale. Smart Global (SGH US) falls 6% postmarket Tuesday after the computing memory maker forecast earnings per share for the second quarter. The low end of that forecast missed the average analyst estimate. Beyond Meat (BYND) shares surge premarket after CNBC KFC launch report UBS cut the recommendation on Adobe Inc. (ADBE US) to neutral from buy, citing concerns over the software company’s 2022 growth prospects. Shares down 2% in premarket trading. Oncternal Therapeutics (ONCT US) shares climb 5.1% premarket after saying it reached consensus with the FDA on the design and major details of the phase 3 superiority study ZILO-301 to treat mantle cell lymphoma. In Europe, the energy, chemicals and car industries led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index up 0.2% to near an all-time high set on Tuesday. The Euro Stoxx 50 rises as much as 0.6%, DAX outperforms. FTSE 100 lags but rises off the lows to trade up 0.2%. Nestle dropped 2.4%, slipping from a record, after Jefferies cut the Swiss food giant to underperform. Utilities were the worst-performing sector in Europe on Wednesday as cyclical areas of the market are favored over defensives, while Uniper and Fortum fall following news of a loan agreement.  Other decliners include RWE (-2.4%), Endesa (2.1%), Verbund (-1.3%), NatGrid (-1.2%), Centrica (-1.2%). Earlier in the session, technology shares led a decline in Asian equity markets, with investors concerned about the prospects of higher interest rates and Tencent’s continued sale of assets. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell as much as 0.6%, the most in two weeks, dragged down by Tencent and Meituan. The rout in U.S. tech spilled over to Asia, where the Hang Seng Tech Index plunged 4.6%, the most since July, following Tencent’s stake cut in Singapore’s Sea. Declines in tech and other sectors in Hong Kong widened after the city tightened rules to curb the spread of the omicron variant. Most Asian indexes fell on Wednesday, with Japan an exception among major markets as automakers offered support. The outlook for tighter monetary policy in the U.S. and higher Treasury yields weighed on the region’s technology shares, prompting a rotation from growth to value stocks.   Read: China Tech Selloff Deepens as Tencent Sale Spooks Traders Asian equities have underperformed U.S. and European peers amid slower recoveries and vaccination rates in the past year. With omicron rapidly gaining a foothold in Asia, there is a risk of “any further restriction measures, which could cloud the services sector outlook, along with disruption to supply chains,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a strategist at IG Asia Pte.  Philippine stocks gained as trading resumed following a one-day halt due to a systems glitch. North Korea appeared to have launched its first ballistic missile in about two months, just days after leader Kim Jong Un indicated that returning to stalled nuclear talks with the U.S. was a low priority for him in the coming year. India’s key equity gauges posted their longest run of advances in more than two moths, driven by a rally in financial stocks on hopes of revival in lending on the back of capex spending in the country. The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.6% to 60,223.15 in Mumbai, its highest since Nov. 16, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index advanced 0.7%. Both benchmarks stretched their winning run to a fourth day, the longest since Oct. 18. All but six of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. climbed, led by a gauge of banking firms. “I believe from an uncertain, volatile environment, the Nifty is now headed for a directional move,” Sahaj Agrawal, a head of derivative research at Kotak Securities, writes in a note. The Nifty 50 crossed a significant barrier of the 17,800 level and is now expected to trade at 19,000-19,500 level in the medium term, Agrawal added. HDFC Bank contributed the most to the Sensex’s gain, increasing 2.4%. Out of 30 shares in the Sensex, 18 rose, while 12 fell In FX, Bloomberg Dollar Spot index slpped 0.2% back toward Tuesday’s lows, falling as the greenback was weaker against most of its Group-of-10 peers, SEK and JPY are the best performers in G-10, CAD underperforms. Scandinavian currencies and the yen led gains, though most G-10 currencies were trading in narrow ranges. Australia’s dollar reversed an Asia-session loss in European trading. The yen rebounded from a five-year low as investors trimmed short positions on the haven currency and amid a decline in Asian stock markets. Treasuries were generally flat in overnight trading, with the curve flatter into early U.S. session as long-end outperforms, partially unwinding a two-day selloff to start the year with Tuesday witnessing a late block sale in ultra-bond futures. 10-year yields traded as high as 1.650% ahead of the US open after being mostly flat around 1.645%; yields were richer by up to 2bp across long-end of the curve while little change from front-end out to belly, flattening 2s10s, 5s30s spreads by 0.5bp and 1.8bp; gilts outperformed in the sector by half basis point. Focus expected to continue on IG issuance, which has impacted the market in the past couple of days, and in U.S. afternoon session FOMC minutes will be released. IG dollar issuance slate includes EIB $5B 5-year SOFR and Reliance Ind. 10Y/30Y/40Y; thirteen borrowers priced $23.1b across 30 tranches Tuesday, making it the largest single day volume for U.S. high-grade corporate bonds since first week of September. European peripheral spreads widen to core. 30y Italy lags peers, widening ~2bps to Germany with order books above EU43b at the long 30y syndication. Ten-year yields shot up 8bps in New Zealand as its markets reopened following the New Year holiday. Aussie yields advanced 4bps. A 10-year sale in Japan drew a bid-cover ratio of 3.46. In commodities, crude futures were range-bound with WTI near just below $77, Brent nearer $80 after OPEC+ agreed to revive more halted production as the outlook for global oil markets improved, with demand largely withstanding the new coronavirus variant. Spot gold puts in a small upside move out of Asia’s tight range to trade near $1,820/oz. Base metals are mixed. LME nickel lags, dropping over 2%; LME aluminum and lead are up ~0.8%.  Looking at the day ahead, data releases include the December services and composite PMIs from the Euro Area, Italy, France, Germany and the US. On top of that, there’s the ADP’s December report of private payrolls from the US, the preliminary December CPI report from Italy, and December’s consumer confidence reading from France. Separately from the Federal Reserve, we’ll get the minutes of the December FOMC meeting. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures little changed at 4,783.25 MXAP down 0.4% to 193.71 MXAPJ down 0.9% to 626.67 Nikkei up 0.1% to 29,332.16 Topix up 0.4% to 2,039.27 Hang Seng Index down 1.6% to 22,907.25 Shanghai Composite down 1.0% to 3,595.18 Sensex up 0.7% to 60,300.47 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3% to 7,565.85 Kospi down 1.2% to 2,953.97 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.1% to 494.52 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.09% Euro up 0.2% to $1.1304 Brent Futures down 0.4% to $79.72/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,819.73 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.13% to 96.13 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The U.S. yield curve’s most dramatic steepening in more than three months has little to do with traders turning more optimistic on the economy or betting on a more aggressive timetable for raising interest rates The surge in euro-area inflation that surprised policy makers in recent months is close to its peak, according to European Central Bank Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau Some Bank of Japan officials say it’s likely the central bank will discuss the possible ditching of a long-held view that price risks are mainly on the downward side at a policy meeting this month, according to people familiar with the matter Turkish authorities are keeping tabs on investors who are buying large amounts of foreign currency and asked banks to deter their clients from using the spot market for hedging-related trades as they struggle to contain the lira’s slide Italy is trying to lock in historically low financing costs at the start of a year where inflationary and political pressures could spell an end to super easy borrowing conditions North Korea appears to have launched its first ballistic missile in about two months, after leader Kim Jong Un indicated he was more interested in bolstering his arsenal than returning to stalled nuclear talks with the U.S. A More detailed breakdown of overnight news from Newsquawk Asia-Pac equities traded mostly in the red following the mixed handover from Wall Street, where the US majors maintained a cyclical bias and the NDX bore the brunt of another sizeable Treasury curve bear-steepener. Overnight, US equity futures resumed trade with mild losses and have since been subdued, with participants now gearing up for the FOMC minutes (full Newsquawk preview available in the Research Suite) ahead of Friday’s US jobs report and several scheduled Fed speakers. In APAC, the ASX 200 (-0.3%) was pressured by its tech sector, although the upside in financials cushioned some losses. The Nikkei 225 (+0.1%) was kept afloat by the recent JPY weakness, whilst Sony Group rose some 4% after its chairman announced EV ambitions. The KOSPI (-1.2%) was dealt a blow as North Korea fired a projectile that appeared to be a ballistic missile, but this landed outside of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Hang Seng (-1.6%) saw its losses accelerate with the Hang Seng Tech Index tumbling over 4% as the sector tackled headwinds from Wall Street alongside domestic crackdowns. China Huarong Asset Management slumped over 50% as it resumed trade following a nine-month halt after its financial failure. The Shanghai Comp. (-1.0%) conformed to the mostly negative tone after again seeing a hefty liquidity drain by the PBoC. In the debt complex, the US T-note futures held a mild upside bias since the resumption of trade, and the US curve was somewhat steady. Participants also highlighted large short-covering heading into yesterday’s US close ahead of the FOMC minutes. Top Asian News Asian Stocks Slide as Surging Yields Squeeze Technology Sector China’s Growth Forecast Cut by CICC Amid Covid Outbreaks BOJ Is Said to Discuss Changing Long-Held View on Price Risks Gold Holds Gain With Fed Rate Hikes and Treasury Yields in Focus European equities (Stoxx 600 +0.1%) trade mixed in what has been a relatively quiet session thus far with the final readings of Eurozone services and composite PMIs providing little in the way of fresh impetus for prices. The handover from the APAC region was predominantly a soft one with Chinese bourses lagging once again with the Hang Seng Tech Index tumbling over 4% as the sector tackled headwinds from Wall Street alongside domestic crackdowns. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Comp. (-1%) conformed to the mostly negative tone after again seeing a hefty liquidity drain by the PBoC. Stateside, the ES and RTY are flat whilst the NQ lags once again after yesterday bearing the brunt of another sizeable treasury curve bear-steepener. In terms of house views, analysts at Barclays expect “2022 to be a more normal yet positive year for equities, looking for high single-digit upside and a broader leadership”. Barclays adds that it remains “pro-cyclical (Industrials, Autos, Leisure, reopening plays and Energy OW), and prefer Value to Growth”. Elsewhere, analysts at Citi stated that “monetary tightening may push up longer-dated nominal/real bond yields, threatening highly rated sectors such as IT or Luxury Goods. Alternatively, higher yields could help traditional value trades such as UK equities and Pan-European Financials”. Sectors in Europe are mostly higher, with auto names leading as Renault (+3.4%) sits at the top of the CAC, whilst Stellantis (+0.6%) has seen some support following the announcement that it is planning for a full battery-electric portfolio by 2028. Elsewhere, support has also been seen for Chemicals, Oil & Gas and Banking names with the latter continuing to be supported by the current favourable yield environment. To the downside, Food and Beverage is the clear laggard amid losses in Nestle (-2.6%) following a broker downgrade at Jefferies. Ocado (+5.5%) sits at the top of the Stoxx 600 after being upgraded to buy at Berenberg with analysts expecting the Co. to sign further deals with new and existing grocery e-commerce partners this year. Finally, Uniper (-2.4%) sits near the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after securing credit facilities totalling EUR 10bln from Fortum and KfW. Top European News U.K. Weighs Dropping Covid Test Mandate for Arriving Travelers German Energy Giant Uniper Gets $11 Billion for Margin Calls European Gas Extends Rally as Russian Shipments Remain Curbed Italian Inflation Hits Highest in More Than a Decade on Energy In FX, notwithstanding Tuesday’s somewhat mixed US manufacturing ISM survey and relatively hawkish remarks from Fed’s Kashkari, the week (and year) in terms of data and events really begins today with the release of ADP as a guide for NFP and minutes of the December FOMC that confirmed a faster pace of tapering and more hawkish dot plots. As such, it may not be surprising to see the Buck meandering broadly and index settling into a range inside yesterday’s parameters with less impetus from Treasuries that have flipped from a severe if not extreme bear-steepening incline. Looking at DXY price action in more detail, 96.337 marks the top and 96.053 the bottom at present, and from a purely technical perspective, 96.098 remains significant as a key Fib retracement level. JPY/EUR/AUD/GBP/NZD - All taking advantage of the aforementioned Greenback fade, and with the Yen more eager than others to claw back lost ground given recent underperformance. Hence, Usd/Jpy has retreated further from multi-year highs and through 116.00 to expose more downside potential irrespective of latest reports via newswire sources suggesting the BoJ is expected to slightly revise higher its inflation forecast for the next fiscal year and downgrade the GDP outlook for the year ending in March. Similarly, the Euro is having another look above 1.1300 even though EZ services and composite PMIs were mostly below consensus or preliminary readings and German new car registrations fell sharply, while the Aussie is retesting resistance around 0.7250 and its 50 DMA with some assistance from firm copper prices, Cable remains underpinned near 1.3550 and the 100 DMA and the Kiwi is holding mainly above 0.6800 in the face of stronger Aud/Nzd headwinds. Indeed, the cross is approaching 1.0650 in contrast to Eur/Gbp that is showing signs of changing course following several bounces off circa 0.8333 that equates to 1.2000 as a reciprocal. CHF/CAD - The Franc and Loonie appear a bit less eager to pounce on their US peer’s retrenchment, as the former pivots 0.9150 and latter straddles 1.2700 amidst a downturn in crude pre-Canadian building permits and new house prices. SCANDI/EM - Little sign of any fallout from a slowdown in Sweden’s services PMI as overall risk sentiment remains supportive for the Sek either side of 10.2600 vs the Eur, but the Nok is veering back down towards 10.0000 in line with slippage in Brent from Usd 80+/brl peaks reached on Tuesday. Elsewhere, the Zar is shrugging off a sub-50 SA PMI as Gold strengthens its grip on the Usd 1800/oz handle and the Cnh/Cny are still underpinned after another PBoC liquidity drain and firmer than previous midpoint fix on hopes that cash injections might be forthcoming through open market operations into the banking system from the second half of January to meet rising demand for cash, according to China's Securities Journal. Conversely, the Try has not derived any real comfort from comments by Turkey’s Finance Minister underscoring its shift away from orthodox policies, or insistence that budget discipline will not be compromised. In commodities, crude benchmarks are currently little changed but have been somewhat choppy within a range shy of USD 1/bbl in European hours, in-spite of limited fresh newsflow occurring. For reference, WTI and Brent reside within USD 77.26-76.53/bbl and USD 80.25-79.56/bbl parameters respectively. Updates for the complex so far include Cascade data reporting that gas flows via the Russian Yamal-Europe pipeline in an eastward direction have reduced. As a reminder, the pipeline drew scrutiny in the run up to the holiday period given reverse mode action, an undertaking the Kremlin described as ‘operational’ and due to a lack of requests being placed. Separately, last nights private inventories were a larger than expected draw, however, the internals all printed builds which surpassed expectations. Today’s EIA release is similar expected to show a headline draw and builds amongst the internals. Elsewhere, and more broadly, geopolitics remain in focus with Reuters sources reporting that a rocket attack has hit a military base in proximity to the Baghdad airport which hosts US forces. Moving to metals, spot gold and silver are once again fairly contained though the yellow metal retains the upside it derived around this point yesterday, hovering just below the USD 1820/oz mark. US Event Calendar 7am: Dec. MBA Mortgage Applications -5.6%, prior -0.6% 8:15am: Dec. ADP Employment Change, est. 410,000, prior 534,000 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Composite PMI, prior 56.9 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Services PMI, est. 57.5, prior 57.5 2pm: Dec. FOMC Meeting Minutes DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap As you may have seen from my CoTD yesterday all I got for Xmas this year was Omicron, alongside my wife and two of our three kids (we didn’t test Bronte). On Xmas Day I was cooking a late Xmas dinner and I suddenly started to have a slightly lumpy throat and felt a bit tired. Given I’d had a couple of glasses of red wine I thought it might be a case of Bordeaux-2015. However a LFT and PCR test the next day confirmed Covid-19. I had a couple of days of being a bit tired, sneezing and being sniffly. After that I was 100% physically (outside a of bad back, knee and shoulder but I can’t blame that on covid) but am still sniffly today. I’m also still testing positive on a LFT even if I’m out of isolation which tells me testing to get out of isolation early only likely works if you’re completely asymptomatic. My wife was similar to me symptom wise. Maybe slightly worse but she gets flu badly when it arrives and this was nothing like that. The two kids had no real symptoms unless being extremely annoying is one. Indeed spending 10 days cooped up with them in very wet conditions (ie garden activity limited) was very challenging. Although I came out of isolation straight to my home office that was still a very welcome change of scenery yesterday. The covid numbers are absolutely incredible and beyond my wildest imagination a month ago. Yesterday the UK reported c.219k new cases, France c.272k and the US 1.08 million. While these are alarming numbers it’s equally impressive that where the data is available, patients on mechanical ventilation have hardly budged and hospitalisations, while rising, are so far a decent level below precious peaks. Omicron has seen big enough case numbers now for long enough that even though we’ve had another big boost in cases these past few days, there’s nothing to suggest that the central thesis shouldn’t be anything other than a major decoupling between cases and fatalities. See the chart immediately below of global cases for the exponential recent rise but the still subdued levels of deaths. Clearly there is a lag but enough time has passed that suggests the decoupling will continue to be sizeable. It seems the main problem over the next few weeks is the huge number of people self isolating as the variant rips through populations. This will massively burden health services and likely various other industries. However hopefully this latest wave can accelerate the end game for the pandemic and move us towards endemicity faster. Famous last words perhaps but this variant is likely milder, is outcompeting all the others, and our defences are much, much better than they have been (vaccines, immunity, boosters, other therapeutic treatments). Indeed, President Biden directed his team to double the amount of Pfizer’s anti-covid pill Paxlovid they order; he called the pill a game changer. So a difficult few weeks ahead undoubtedly but hopefully light at the end of the tunnel for many countries. Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted yesterday that Britain can ride out the current Omicron wave without implementing any stricter measures, suggesting that learning to live with the virus is becoming the official policy stance in the UK. The head scratcher is what countries with zero-covid strategies will do faced with the current set up. If we’ve learnt anything from the last two years of covid it is that there is almost no way of avoiding it. Will a milder variant change such a stance? Markets seem to have started the year with covid concerns on the back burner as day 2 of 2022 was a lighter version of the buoyant day 1 even if US equities dipped a little led by a big under-performance from the NASDAQ (-1.33%), as tech stocks got hit by higher discount rates with the long end continuing to sell off to start the year. Elsewhere the Dow Jones (+0.59%) and Europe’s STOXX 600 (+0.82%) both climbed to new records, with cyclical sectors generally outperforming once again. Interestingly the STOXX Travel & Leisure index rose a further +3.11% yesterday, having already surpassed its pre-Omicron level. As discussed the notable exception to yesterday’s rally were tech stocks, with a number of megacap tech stocks significantly underperforming amidst a continued rise in Treasury yields, and the rotation towards cyclical stocks as investors take the message we’ll be living with rather than attempting to defeat Covid. The weakness among that group meant that the FANG+ index fell -1.68% yesterday, with every one of the 10 companies in the index moving lower, and that weakness in turn meant that the S&P 500 (-0.06%) came slightly off its record high from the previous session. Showing the tech imbalance though was the fact that the equal weight S&P 500 was +0.82% and 335 of the index rose on the day. So it was a reflation day overall. Staying with the theme, the significant rise in treasury yields we saw on Monday extended further yesterday, with the 10yr yield up another +1.9bps to 1.65%. That means the 10yr yield is up by +13.7bps over the last 2 sessions, marking its biggest increase over 2 consecutive sessions since last September. Those moves have also coincided with a notable steepening in the yield curve, which is good news if you value it as a recessionary indicator, with the 2s10s curve +11.3bps to +88.7bps over the last 2 sessions, again marking its biggest 2-day steepening since last September Those moves higher for Treasury yields were entirely driven by a rise in real yields, with the 10yr real yield moving back above the -1% mark. Conversely, inflation breakevens fell back across the board, with the 10yr breakeven declining more than -7.0bps from an intraday peak of 2.67%, the highest level in more than six weeks, which tempered some of the increase in nominal yields. The decline in breakevens was aided by the release of the ISM manufacturing reading for December, since the prices paid reading fell to 68.2, some way beneath the 79.3 reading that the consensus had been expecting. In fact, that’s the biggest monthly drop in the prices paid measure in over a decade, and leaves it at its lowest level since November 2020. Otherwise, the headline reading did disappoint relative to the consensus at 58.7 (vs. 60.0 expected), but the employment component was above expectations at 54.2 (vs. 53.6 expected), which is its highest level in 8 months and some promising news ahead of this Friday’s jobs report. Staying with US employment, the number of US job openings fell to 10.562m in November (vs. 11.079m expected), but the number of people quitting their job hit a record high of 4.5m. That pushed the quits rate back to its record of 3.0% and just shows that the labour market continues to remain very tight with employees struggling to hire the staff needed. This has been our favourite indicator of the labour market over the last few quarters and it continues to keep to the same trend. Back to bonds and Europe saw a much more subdued movement in sovereign bond yields, although gilts were the exception as the 10yr yield surged +11.7bps as it caught up following the previous day’s public holiday in the UK. Elsewhere however, yields on bunds (-0.2bps), OATs (-1.1bps) and BTPs (+0.9bps) all saw fairly modest moves. Also of interest ahead of tonight’s Fed minutes, there was a story from the Wall Street Journal late yesterday that said Fed officials are considering whether to reduce their bond holdings, and thus beginning QT, in short order. Last cycle, the Fed kept the size of its balance sheet flat for three years after the end of QE by reinvesting maturing proceeds before starting QT. This iteration of QE is set to end in March, so any move towards balance sheet rolloff would be a much quicker tightening than last cycle, which the article suggested was a real possibility. As this cycle has taught us time and again, it is moving much faster than historical precedent, so don’t rely on prior timelines. Balance sheet policy and the timing of any QT will be a major focus in tonight’s minutes, along with any signals for the timing of liftoff and path of subsequent rate hikes. Overnight in Asia markets are trading mostly lower with the KOSPI (-1.45%), Hang Seng (-0.85%), Shanghai Composite (-0.81%) and CSI (-0.67%) dragged down largely by IT stocks while the Nikkei (+0.07%) is holding up better. In China, Tencent cut its stake in a Singapore based company yesterday by selling $ 4 billion worth shares amidst China's regulatory crackdown with investors concerned they will do more. This has helped push the Hang Seng Tech Index towards its lowest close since its inception in July 2020 with Tencent and companies it invested in losing heavily. Moving on, Japan is bringing forward booster doses for the elderly while maintaining border controls in an effort to contain Omicron. Futures are indicating a weaker start in DM markets with the S&P 500 (-0.25%) and DAX (-0.11%) both tracking their Asian peers. Oil prices continued their ascent yesterday, with Brent Crude (+1.20%) hitting its highest level since the Omicron variant first emerged on the scene. Those moves came as the OPEC+ group agreed that they would go ahead with the increase in output in February of 400k barrels per day. And the strength we saw in commodities more broadly last year has also continued to persist into 2022, with copper prices (+1.12%) hitting a 2-month high, whilst soybean prices (+2.49%) hit a 4-month high. Looking at yesterday’s other data, German unemployment fell by -23k in December (vs. -15k expected), leaving the level of unemployment at a post-pandemic low of 2.405m in December. Finally, the preliminary French CPI reading for December came in slightly beneath expectations on the EU-harmomised measure, at 3.4% (vs. 3.5% expected). To the day ahead now, and data releases include the December services and composite PMIs from the Euro Area, Italy, France, Germany and the US. On top of that, there’s the ADP’s December report of private payrolls from the US, the preliminary December CPI report from Italy, and December’s consumer confidence reading from France. Separately from the Federal Reserve, we’ll get the minutes of the December FOMC meeting. Tyler Durden Wed, 01/05/2022 - 08:07.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 5th, 2022

Byron Wien Releases 10 Surprises For 2022: Stocks Slump, Gold Jumps, "Green New Deal" Goes Nowhere

Byron Wien Releases 10 Surprises For 2022: Stocks Slump, Gold Jumps, 'Green New Deal' Goes Nowhere Having correctly called for wider adoption of crypto, soaring oil prices, and the birth of a Trump media network in 2021, Byron R. Wien, Vice Chairman together with Joe Zidle, Chief Investment Strategist in the Private Wealth Solutions group at Blackstone, today issued their list of the Ten Surprises of 2022. This is the 37th year Byron has given his views on a number of economic, financial market and political surprises for the coming year. Byron defines a “surprise” as an event that the average investor would only assign a one out of three chance of taking place but which Byron believes is “probable,” having a better than 50% likelihood of happening. Byron started the tradition in 1986 when he was the Chief U.S. Investment Strategist at Morgan Stanley. Byron joined Blackstone in September 2009 as a senior advisor to both the firm and its clients in analyzing economic, political, market and social trends. In 2018, Joe Zidle joined Byron Wien in the development of the Ten Surprises. Byron and Joe’s Ten Surprises of 2022 are as follows: The combination of strong earnings clashes with rising interest rates, resulting in the S&P 500 making no progress in 2022. Value outperforms growth. High volatility continues and there is a correction that approaches, but does not exceed, 20%. While the prices of some commodities decline, wages and rents continue to rise and the Consumer Price Index and other widely followed measures of inflation increase by 4.5% for the year. Declines in prices of transportation and energy encourage the die-hard proponents of the view that inflation is “transitory,” but persistent inflation becomes the dominant theme. The bond market begins to respond to rising inflation and tapering by the Federal Reserve, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury rises to 2.75%. The Fed completes its tapering and raises rates four times in 2022. In spite of the Omicron variant, group meetings and convention gatherings return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. While Covid remains a problem throughout both the developed and the less-developed world, normal conditions are largely restored in the US.  People spend three to four a days a week in offices and return to theaters, concerts, and sports arenas en masse. Chinese policymakers respond to recent turmoil in the country’s property markets by curbing speculative investment in housing. As a result, there is more capital from Chinese households that needs to be invested. A major asset management industry begins to flourish in China, creating opportunities for Western companies. The price of gold rallies by 20% to a new record high. Despite strong growth in the US, investors seek the perceived safety and inflation hedge of gold amidst rising prices and volatility. Gold reclaims its title as a haven for newly minted billionaires, even as cryptocurrencies continue to gain market share. While the major oil-producing countries conclude that high oil prices are speeding up the implementation of alternative energy programs and allowing US shale producers to become profitable again, these countries can’t increase production enough to meet demand. The price of West Texas crude confounds forward curves and analyst forecasts when it rises above $100 per barrel. Suddenly, the nuclear alternative for power generation enters the arena. Enough safety measures have been developed to reduce fears about its dangers, and the viability of nuclear power is widely acknowledged. A major nuclear site is approved for development in the Midwest of the United States. Fusion technology emerges as a possible future source of energy. ESG evolves beyond corporate policy statements. Government agencies develop and enforce new regulatory standards that require public companies in the US to publish information documenting progress on various metrics deemed critical in the new era. Federal Reserve governors spearhead implementation of stress tests to assess financial institutions’ vulnerability to climate change scenarios. In a setback to its green energy program, the United States finds it cannot buy enough lithium batteries to power the electric vehicles planned for production. China controls the lithium market, as well as the markets for the cobalt and nickel used in making the transmission rods, and it opts to reserve most of the supply of these commodities for domestic use. “Also Rans” Every year there are always a few Surprises that do not make the Ten, because we either do not think they are as relevant as those on the basic list or we are not comfortable with the idea that they are “probable.” 11. The FDA approves the first ex vivo gene-editing treatment. This stimulates further research into genomic medicine, and progress is accelerated on developing in vivo gene therapies. Ethical concerns around CRISPR technology inspire heated debate, but also focus investor attention on the pharmaceuticals and health care sectors. 12. The digital economy gets a major boost when Jamie Dimon reverses his position on cryptocurrencies and J.P. Morgan seeks to become a leader in the space. Crypto becomes a major factor in the financial markets. 13. The United States and China both seek to become the global leader in advanced semiconductor capabilities in order to reduce their dependence on offshore manufacturing of the technology. The US government commits major funds to private contractors for semiconductor research, while China focuses on state-owned enterprises to get the job done. 14. Puerto Rico becomes the new retirement destination of choice. People are attracted by the good weather and low tax rates, and they put aside fears of hurricanes. How did Wien and Zidle do last year? 1. Former President Trump starts his own television network and also plans his 2024 campaign... [ZH: Mostly Right. Trump has formed his own media entity and made it clear he is planning to run in 2024] 2. Despite the hostile rhetoric from both sides during the U.S. presidential campaign, President Biden begins to restore a constructive diplomatic and trade relationship with China. China A shares lead emerging markets higher. [ZH: Wrong. US-China relations have deteriorated and China A shares were the worst performers of the majors in 2021] 3. The success of between five and ten vaccines, together with an improvement in therapeutics, allows the U.S. to return to some form of “normal” by Memorial Day 2021. People are generally required to show proof of vaccination before boarding airplanes and attending theaters, movies, sporting events and other large gatherings. The Summer Olympics, postponed last year, are held in July with spectators allowed to physically attend. [ZH: Mostly Wrong. "Normal" was very short-lived for most states (especially blue states) and the Summer Olympics was spectator-less. Wien was right however, that vaxx passports would be required for many activities.] 4. The Justice Department softens its case against Google and Facebook, persuaded by the argument that the consumer actually benefits from the services provided by these companies. [ZH: Wrong. Europe continues to press harder and US Congress holds hearings after hearings urging breakups.] 5. The economy develops momentum on its own because of pent-up demand, and depressed hospitality and airline stocks become strong performers. Fiscal and monetary policy remain historically accommodative. Nominal economic growth for the full year exceeds 6% and the unemployment rate falls to 5%. [ZH: Mostly Wrong. The unemployment rate did tumble but hospitality and airline stocks remain deep in distress as wave after wave of COVID pressures any return to normal.] 6. The Federal Reserve and the Treasury openly embrace Modern Monetary Theory as their accommodative policies continue. As long as growth exceeds the rate of inflation, deficits don’t seem to matter. Because inflation increases modestly, gold rallies and cryptocurrencies gain more respect during the year. [ZH: Mostly Right. While Congress was unable to get BBB through, The Fed continued to buy and fund debt issuance out the wazoo and deficits didn't seem to matter again. Cryptos did gain broader acceptance and had a huge year (though ended on the weaker side) while gold did not participate.] 7. Even as energy company executives cut estimates for long-term growth, near-term opportunities are increasing. The return to “normal” increases both industrial activity and mobility, and the price of West Texas Intermediate oil rises to $65/bbl. Rig counts increase and energy high yield bonds rally soundly. Energy stocks are among the best performers in 2021. [ZH: Right. Wien nailed this perfectly...] 8. The equity market broadens out. Stocks beyond health care and technology participate in the rise in prices. “Risk on” is not without risk and the market corrects almost 20% in the first half, but the S&P 500 trades at 4,500 later in the year. Cyclicals lead defensives, small caps beat large caps and the “K” shaped equity market recovery unwinds. Big cap tech is the source of liquidity, and the stocks are laggards for the year. [ZH: Mixed. The equity market rally did broaden out but large growth/tech performed very well as did small value.] 9. The surge in economic growth causes the 10-year Treasury yield to rise to 2%. The yield curve steepens, but a concomitant increase in inflation keeps real rates near zero. The Fed wants the strength in housing and autos to continue. As a result, it extends the duration of bond purchases in order to prevent higher rates at the long end of the curve from choking off credit to consumers and businesses. [ZH: Completely Wrong. 10Y Yields get nowhere near 2.00%. The yield curve flattened dramatically on Fed policy error fears. The Fed tapered its bond buying.] 10. The slide in the dollar turns around. The post-vaccine strength of the U.S. economy and financial markets attracts investors disenchanted with the rising debt and slower growth of Europe and Japan. Treasurys maintain a positive yield and the carry trade continues. [ZH: Right. The dollar did turnaround mid year as faith in the recovery returned.] So 4 of his predictions were 'right' or 'mostly right'; 5 predictions were 'completely' or 'mostly' wrong; and 1 was mixed. Tyler Durden Mon, 01/03/2022 - 14:55.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 3rd, 2022

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2020, we said that the year would be a very tough act to follow as there "could not have been more regime shifts, volatility moments, and memes than 2020." And yet despite the exceedingly high bar for 2021, the year did not disappoint and proved to be a successful contender, and if judging by the sheer breadth of narratives, stories, surprises, plot twists and unexpected developments, 2021 was even more memorable and event-filled than 2020. Where does one start? While covid was the story of 2020, the pandemic that emerged out of a (Fauci-funded) genetic lab team in Wuhan, China dominated newsflow, politics and capital markets for the second year in a row. And while the biggest plot twist of 2020 was Biden's victory over Trump in the presidential election (it took the pandemic lockdowns and mail-in ballots to hand the outcome to Biden), largely thanks to Covid, Biden failed to hold to his biggest presidential promise of defeating covid, and not only did he admit in late 2021 that there is "no Federal solution" to covid waving a white flag of surrender less than a year into his presidency, but following the recent emergence of the Xi, pardon Omicron variant, the number of covid cases in the US has just shattered all records. The silver lining is not only that deaths and hospitalizations have failed to follow the number of cases, but that the scaremongering narrative itself is starting to melt in response to growing grassroots discontent with vaccine after vaccine and booster after booster, which by now it is clear, do nothing to contain the pandemic. And now that it is clear that omicron is about as mild as a moderate case of the flu, the hope has finally emerged that this latest strain will finally kill off the pandemic as it becomes the dominant, rapidly-spreading variant, leading to worldwide herd immunity thanks to the immune system's natural response. Yes, it may mean billions less in revenue for Pfizer and Moderna, but it will be a colossal victory for the entire world. The second biggest story of 2021 was undoubtedly the scourge of soaring inflation, which contrary to macrotourist predictions that it would prove "transitory", refused to do so and kept rising, and rising, and rising, until it hit levels not seen since the Volcker galloping inflation days of the 1980s. The only difference of course is that back then, the Fed Funds rate hit 20%. Now it is at 0%, and any attempts to hike aggressively will lead to a horrific market crash, something the Fed knows very well. Whether this was due to supply-chain blockages and a lack of goods and services pushing prices higher, or due to massive stimulus pushing demand for goods - and also prices - higher, or simply the result of a record injection of central bank liquidity into the system, is irrelevant but what does matter is that it got so bad that even Biden, facing a mauling for his Democratic party in next year's midterm elections, freaked out about soaring prices and pushed hard to lower the price of gasoline, ordering releases from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve and vowing to punish energy companies that dare to make a profit, while ordering Powell to contain the surge in prices even if means the market is hit. Unfortunately for Biden, the market will be hit even as inflation still remain red hot for much of the coming year. And speaking of markets, while 2022 may be a year when the piper finally gets paid, 2021 was yet another blockbuster year for risk assets, largely on the back of the continued global response to the 2020 covid pandemic, when as we wrote last year, we saw "the official arrival of global Helicopter Money, tens of trillions in fiscal and monetary stimulus, an overhaul of the global economy punctuated by an unprecedented explosion in world debt, an Orwellian crackdown on civil liberties by governments everywhere, and ultimately set the scene for what even the World Economic Forum called simply "The Great Reset." Yes, the staggering liquidity injections that started in 2020, continued throughout 2021 and the final tally is that after $3 trillion in emergency liquidity injections in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic to stabilize the world, the Fed injected almost $2 trillion in the subsequent period, of which $1.5 trillion in 2021, a year where economists were "puzzled" why inflation was soaring. This, of course, excludes the tens of trillions of monetary stimulus injected by other central banks as well as the boundless fiscal stimulus that was greenlighted with the launch of helicopter money (i.e., MMT) in 2020. It's also why with inflation running red hot and real rates the lowest they have ever been, everyone was forced to rush into the "safety" of stocks (or stonks as they came to be known among GenZ), and why after last year's torrid stock market returns, the S&P rose another 27% in 2021 and up a staggering 114% from the March 2020 lows, in the process trouncing all previous mega-rallies (including those in 1929, 1938, 1974 and 2009)... ... making this the third consecutive year of double-digit returns. This reminds us of something we said last year: "it's almost as if the world's richest asset owners requested the covid pandemic." A year later, we got confirmation for this rhetorical statement, when we calculated that in the 18 months since the covid pandemic, the richest 1% of US society have seen their net worth increase by over $30 trillion. As a result, the US is now officially a banana republic where the middle 60% of US households by income - a measure economists use as a definition of the middle class - saw their combined assets drop from 26.7% to 26.6% of national wealth as of June, the lowest in Federal Reserve data, while for the first time the super rich had a bigger share, at 27%. Yes, the 1% now own more wealth than the entire US middle class, a definition traditionally reserve for kleptocracies and despotic African banana republics. It wasn't just the rich, however: politicians the world over would benefit from the transition from QE to outright helicopter money and MMT which made the over monetization of deficits widely accepted in the blink of an eye. The common theme here is simple: no matter what happens, capital markets can never again be allowed to drop, regardless of the cost or how much more debt has to be incurred. Indeed, as we look back at the news barrage over the past year, and past decade for that matter, the one thing that becomes especially clear amid the constant din of markets, of politics, of social upheaval and geopolitical strife - and now pandemics -  in fact a world that is so flooded with constant conflicting newsflow and changing storylines that many now say it has become virtually impossible to even try to predict the future, is that despite the people's desire for change, for something original and untried, the world's established forces will not allow it and will fight to preserve the broken status quo at any price - even global coordinated shutdowns - which is perhaps why it always boils down to one thing - capital markets, that bedrock of Western capitalism and the "modern way of life", where control, even if it means central planning the likes of which have not been seen since the days of the USSR, and an upward trajectory must be preserved at all costs, as the alternative is a global, socio-economic collapse. And since it is the daily gyrations of stocks that sway popular moods the interplay between capital markets and politics has never been more profound or more consequential. The more powerful message here is the implicit realization and admission by politicians, not just Trump who had a penchant of tweeting about the S&P every time it rose, but also his peers on both sides of the aisle, that the stock market is now seen as the consummate barometer of one's political achievements and approval. Which is also why capital markets are now, more than ever, a political tool whose purpose is no longer to distribute capital efficiently and discount the future, but to manipulate voter sentiments far more efficiently than any fake Russian election interference attempt ever could. Which brings us back to 2021 and the past decade, which was best summarized by a recent Bill Blain article who said that "the last 10-years has been a story of massive central banking distortion to address the 2008 crisis. Now central banks face the consequences and are trapped. The distortion can’t go uncorrected indefinitely." He is right: the distortion will eventually collapse especially if the Fed follows through with its attempt rate hikes some time in mid-2020, but so far the establishment and the "top 1%" have been successful - perhaps the correct word is lucky - in preserving the value of risk assets: on the back of the Fed's firehose of liquidity the S&P500 returned an impressive 27% in 2021, following a 15.5% return in 2020 and 28.50% in 2019. It did so by staging the greatest rally off all time from the March lows, surpassing all of the 4 greatest rallies off the lows of the past century (1929,1938, 1974, and 2009). Yet this continued can-kicking by the establishment - all of which was made possible by the covid pandemic and lockdowns which served as an all too convenient scapegoat for the unprecedented response that served to propel risk assets (and fiat alternatives such as gold and bitcoin) to all time highs - has come with a price... and an increasingly higher price in fact. As even Bank of America CIO Michael Hartnett admits, Fed's response to the the pandemic "worsened inequality" as the value of financial assets - Wall Street -  relative to economy - Main Street - hit all-time high of 6.3x. And while the Fed was the dynamo that has propelled markets higher ever since the Lehman collapse, last year certainly had its share of breakout moments. Here is a sampling. Gamestop and the emergence of meme stonks and the daytrading apes: In January markets were hypnotized by the massive trading volumes, rolling short squeezes and surging share prices of unremarkable established companies such as consoles retailer GameStop and cinema chain AMC and various other micro and midcap names. What began as a discussion on untapped value at GameStop on Reddit months earlier by Keith Gill, better known as Roaring Kitty, morphed into a hedge fund-orchestrated, crowdsourced effort to squeeze out the short position held by a hedge fund, Melvin Capital. The momentum flooded through the retail market, where daytraders shunned stocks and bought massive out of the money calls, sparking rampant "gamma squeezes" in the process forcing some brokers to curb trading. Robinhood, a popular broker for day traders and Citadel's most lucrative "subsidiary", required a cash injection to withstand the demands placed on it by its clearing house. The company IPOed later in the year only to see its shares collapse as it emerged its business model was disappointing hollow absent constant retail euphoria. Ultimately, the market received a crash course in the power of retail investors on a mission. Ultimately, "retail favorite" stocks ended the year on a subdued note as the trading frenzy from earlier in the year petered out, but despite underperforming the S&P500, retail traders still outperformed hedge funds by more than 100%. Failed seven-year Treasury auction:  Whereas auctions of seven-year US government debt generally spark interest only among specialists, on on February 25 2021, one such typically boring event sparked shockwaves across financial markets, as the weakest demand on record hit prices across the whole spectrum of Treasury bonds. The five-, seven- and 10-year notes all fell sharply in price. Researchers at the Federal Reserve called it a “flash event”; we called it a "catastrophic, tailing" auction, the closest thing the US has had to a failed Trasury auction. The flare-up, as the FT put it, reflects one of the most pressing investor concerns of the year: inflation. At the time, fund managers were just starting to realize that consumer price rises were back with a vengeance — a huge threat to the bond market which still remembers the dire days of the Volcker Fed when inflation was about as high as it is today but the 30Y was trading around 15%. The February auaction also illustrated that the world’s most important market was far less liquid and not as structurally robust as investors had hoped. It was an extreme example of a long-running issue: since the financial crisis the traditional providers of liquidity, a group of 24 Wall Street banks, have pulled back because of higher costs associated with post-2008 capital requirements, while leaving liquidity provision to the Fed. Those banks, in their reduced role, as well as the hedge funds and high-frequency traders that have stepped into their place, have tended to withdraw in moments of market volatility. Needless to say, with the Fed now tapering its record QE, we expect many more such "flash" episodes in the bond market in the year ahead. The arch ego of Archegos: In March 2021 several banks received a brutal reminder that some of family offices, which manage some $6 trillion in wealth of successful billionaires and entrepreneurs and which have minimal reporting requirements, take risks that would make the most serrated hedge fund manager wince, when Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management imploded in spectacular style. As we learned in late March when several high-flying stocks suddenly collapsed, Hwang - a former protege of fabled hedge fund group Tiger Management - had built up a vast pile of leverage using opaque Total Return Swaps with a handful of banks to boost bets on a small number of stocks (the same banks were quite happy to help despite Hwang’s having been barred from US markets in 2013 over allegations of an insider-trading scheme, as he paid generously for the privilege of borrowing the banks' balance sheet). When one of Archegos more recent bets, ViacomCBS, suddenly tumbled it set off a liquidation cascade that left banks including Credit Suisse and Nomura with billions of dollars in losses. Conveniently, as the FT noted, the damage was contained to the banks rather than leaking across financial markets, but the episode sparked a rethink among banks over how to treat these clients and how much leverage to extend. The second coming of cryptos: After hitting an all time high in late 2017 and subsequently slumping into a "crypto winter", cryptocurrencies enjoyed a huge rebound in early 2021 which sent their prices soaring amid fears of galloping inflation (as shown below, and contrary to some financial speculation, the crypto space has traditionally been a hedge either to too much liquidity or a hedge to too much inflation). As a result, Bitcoin rose to a series of new record highs that culminated at just below $62,000, nearly three times higher than their previous all time high. But the smooth ride came to a halt in May when China’s crackdown on the cryptocurrency and its production, or “mining”, sparked the first serious crash of 2021. The price of bitcoin then collapsed as much as 30% on May 19, hitting a low of $30,000 amid a liquidation of levered positions in chaotic trading conditions following a warning from Chinese authorities of tighter curbs ahead. A public acceptance by Tesla chief and crypto cheerleader Elon Musk of the industry’s environmental impact added to the declines. However, as with all previous crypto crashes, this one too proved transitory, and prices resumed their upward trajectory in late September when investors started to price in the launch of futures-based bitcoin exchange traded funds in the US. The launch of these contracts subsequently pushed bitcoin to a new all-time high in early November before prices stumbled again in early December, this time due to a rise in institutional ownership when an overall drop in the market dragged down cryptos as well. That demonstrated the growing linkage between Wall Street and cryptocurrencies, due to the growing sway of large investors in digital markets. China's common prosperity crash: China’s education and tech sectors were one of the perennial Wall Street darlings. Companies such as New Oriental, TAL Education as well as Alibaba and Didi had come to be worth billions of dollars after highly publicized US stock market flotations. So when Beijing effectively outlawed swaths of the country’s for-profit education industry in July 2021, followed by draconian anti-trust regulations on the country's fintech names (where Xi Jinping also meant to teach the country's billionaire class a lesson who is truly in charge), the short-term market impact was brutal. Beijing’s initial measures emerged as part of a wider effort to make education more affordable as part of president Xi Jinping’s drive for "common prosperity" but that quickly raised questions over whether growth prospects across corporate China are countered by the capacity of the government to overhaul entire business models overnight. Sure enough, volatility stemming from the education sector was soon overshadowed by another set of government reforms related to common prosperity, a crackdown on leverage across the real estate sector where the biggest casualty was Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer. The company, whose boss was not long ago China's 2nd richest man, was engulfed by a liquidity crisis in the summer that eventually resulted in a default in early December. Still, as the FT notes, China continues to draw in huge amounts of foreign capital, pushing the Chinese yuan to end 2021 at the strongest level since May 2018, a major hurdle to China's attempts to kickstart its slowing economy, and surely a precursor to even more monetary easing. Natgas hyperinflation: Natural gas supplanted crude oil as the world’s most important commodity in October and December as prices exploded to unprecedented levels and the world scrambled for scarce supplies amid the developed world's catastrophic transition to "green" energy. The crunch was particularly acute in Europe, which has become increasingly reliant on imports. Futures linked to TTF, the region’s wholesale gas price, hit a record €137 per megawatt hour in early October, rising more than 75%. In Asia, spot liquefied natural gas prices briefly passed the equivalent of more than $320 a barrel of oil in October. (At the time, Brent crude was trading at $80). A number of factors contributed, including rising demand as pandemic restrictions eased, supply disruptions in the LNG market and weather-induced shortfalls in renewable energy. In Europe, this was aggravated by plunging export volumes from Gazprom, Russia’s state-backed monopoly pipeline supplier, amid a bitter political fight over the launch of the Nordstream 2 pipeline. And with delays to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, analysts say the European gas market - where storage is only 66% full - a cold snap or supply disruption away from another price spike Turkey's (latest) currency crisis:  As the FT's Jonathan Wheatley writes, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was once a source of strength for the Turkish lira, and in his first five years in power from 2003, the currency rallied from TL1.6 per US dollar to near parity at TL1.2. But those days are long gone, as Erdogan's bizarre fascination with unorthodox economics, namely the theory that lower rates lead to lower inflation also known as "Erdoganomics", has sparked a historic collapse in the: having traded at about TL7 to the dollar in February, it has since fallen beyond TL17, making it the worst performing currency of 2021. The lira’s defining moment in 2021 came on November 18 when the central bank, in spite of soaring inflation, cut its policy rate for the third time since September, at Erdogan’s behest (any central banker in Turkey who disagrees with "Erdoganomics" is promptly fired and replaced with an ideological puppet). The lira recovered some of its losses in late December when Erdogan came up with the "brilliant" idea of erecting the infamous "doom loop" which ties Turkey's balance sheet to its currency. It has worked for now (the lira surged from TL18 against the dollar to TL12, but this particular band aid solution will only last so long). The lira’s problems are not only Erdogan’s doing. A strengthening dollar, rising oil prices, the relentless covid pandemic and weak growth in developing economies have been bad for other emerging market currencies, too, but as long as Erdogan is in charge, shorting the lira remains the best trade entering 2022. While these, and many more, stories provided a diversion from the boring existence of centrally-planned markets, we are confident that the trends observed in recent years will continue: coming years will be marked by even bigger government (because only more government can "fix" problems created by government), higher stock prices and dollar debasement (because only more Fed intervention can "fix" the problems created by the Fed), and a policy flip from monetary and QE to fiscal & MMT, all of which will keep inflation at scorching levels, much to the persistent confusion of economists everywhere. Of course, we said much of this last year as well, but while we got most trends right, we were wrong about one thing: we were confident that China's aggressive roll out of the digital yuan would be a bang - or as we put it "it is very likely that while 2020 was an insane year, it may prove to be just an appetizer to the shockwaves that will be unleashed in 2021 when we see the first stage of the most historic overhaul of the fiat payment system in history" - however it turned out to be a whimper. A big reason for that was that the initial reception of the "revolutionary" currency was nothing short of disastrous, with Chinese admitting they were "not at all excited" about the prospect of yet one more surveillance mechanism for Beijing, because that's really what digital currencies are: a way for central banks everywhere to micromanage and scrutinize every single transaction, allowing the powers that be to demonetize any one person - or whole groups - with the flick of a switch. Then again, while digital money may not have made its triumphant arrival in 2021, we are confident that the launch date has merely been pushed back to 2022 when the rollout of the next monetary revolution is expected to begin in earnest. Here we should again note one thing: in a world undergoing historic transformations, any free press must be throttled and controlled, and over the past year we have seen unprecedented efforts by legacy media and its corporate owners, as well as the new "social media" overlords do everything in their power to stifle independent thought. For us it had been especially "personal" on more than one occasions. Last January, Twitter suspended our account because we dared to challenge the conventional narrative about the source of the Wuhan virus. It was only six months later that Twitter apologized, and set us free, admitting it had made a mistake. Yet barely had twitter readmitted us, when something even more unprecedented happened: for the first time ever (to our knowledge) Google - the world's largest online ad provider and monopoly - demonetized our website not because of any complaints about our writing but because of the contents of our comment section. It then held us hostage until we agreed to implement some prerequisite screening and moderation of the comments section. Google's action was followed by the likes of PayPal, Amazon, and many other financial and ad platforms, who rushed to demonetize and suspend us simply because they disagreed with what we had to say. This was a stark lesson in how quickly an ad-funded business can disintegrate in this world which resembles the dystopia of 1984 more and more each day, and we have since taken measures. One year ago, for the first time in our 13 year history, we launched a paid version of our website, which is entirely ad and moderation free, and offers readers a variety of premium content. It wasn't our intention to make this transformation but unfortunately we know which way the wind is blowing and it is only a matter of time before the gatekeepers of online ad spending block us again. As such, if we are to have any hope in continuing it will come directly from you, our readers. We will keep the free website running for as long as possible, but we are certain that it is only a matter of time before the hammer falls as the censorship bandwagon rolls out much more aggressively in the coming year. That said, whether the story of 2022, and the next decade for that matter, is one of helicopter or digital money, of (hyper)inflation or deflation: what is key, and what we learned in the past decade, is that the status quo will throw anything at the problem to kick the can, it will certainly not let any crisis go to waste... even the deadliest pandemic in over a century. And while many already knew that, the events of 2021 made it clear to a fault that not even a modest market correction can be tolerated going forward. After all, if central banks aim to punish all selling, then the logical outcome is to buy everything, and investors, traders and speculators did just that armed with the clearest backstop guarantee from the Fed, which in the deapths of the covid crash crossed the Rubicon when it formally nationalized the bond market as it started buying both investment grade bonds and junk bond ETFs in the open market. As such it is no longer even a debatable issue if the Fed will buy stocks after the next crash - the only question is when. Meanwhile, for all those lamenting the relentless coverage of politics in a financial blog, why finance appears to have taken a secondary role, and why the political "narrative" has taken a dominant role for financial analysts, the past year showed vividly why that is the case: in a world where markets gyrated, and "rotated" from value stocks to growth and vice versa, purely on speculation of how big the next stimulus out of Washington will be, the narrative over Biden's trillions proved to be one of the biggest market moving events for much of the year. And with the Biden stimulus plan off the table for now, the Fed will find it very difficult to tighten financial conditions, especially if it does so just as the economy is slowing. Here we like to remind readers of one of our favorite charts: every financial crisis is the result of Fed tightening. As for predictions about the future, as the past two years so vividly showed, when it comes to actual surprises and all true "black swans", it won't be what anyone had expected. And so while many themes, both in the political and financial realm, did get some accelerated closure courtesy of China's covid pandemic, dramatic changes in 2021 persisted, and will continue to manifest themselves in often violent and unexpected ways - from the ongoing record polarization in the US political arena, to "populist" upheavals around the developed world, to the gradual transition to a global Universal Basic (i.e., socialized) Income regime, to China's ongoing fight with preserving stability in its gargantuan financial system which is now two and a half times the size of the US. As always, we thank all of our readers for making this website - which has never seen one dollar of outside funding (and despite amusing recurring allegations, has certainly never seen a ruble from the KGB either, although now that the entire Russian hysteria episode is over, those allegations have finally quieted down), and has never spent one dollar on marketing - a small (or not so small) part of your daily routine. Which also brings us to another critical topic: that of fake news, and something we - and others who do not comply with the established narrative - have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake news laughable, after all every single article in this website is backed by facts and links to outside sources, it is clearly a dangerous development, and a very slippery slope that the entire developed world is pushing for what is, when stripped of fancy jargon, internet censorship under the guise of protecting the average person from "dangerous, fake information." It's also why we are preparing for the next onslaught against independent thought and why we had no choice but to roll out a premium version of this website. In addition to the other themes noted above, we expect the crackdown on free speech to accelerate in the coming year when key midterm elections will be held, especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2021 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch out of fear of repercussions, which in turn allowed the alternative media to continue to flourish in an orchestrated information vacuum and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which the public relations arm of established media outlets refused to do, in the process earning itself the derogatory "fake news" condemnation. We are grateful that our readers - who hit a new record high in 2021 - have realized it is incumbent upon them to decide what is, and isn't "fake news." * * * And so, before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our no longer that brief, almost 11-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. So without further ado, here are the articles that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, during the past year. In 20th spot with 600,000 reads, was an article that touched on one of the most defining features of the market: the reflation theme the sparked a massive rally at the start of the year courtesy of the surprise outcome in the Georgia Senate race, where Democrats ended up wining both seats up for grabs, effectively giving the Dems a majority in both the House and the Senate, where despite the even, 50-seat split, Kamala Harris would cast the winning tie-breaker vote to pursue a historic fiscal stimulus. And sure enough, as we described in "Bitcoin Surges To Record High, Stocks & Bonds Battered As Dems Look Set To Take Both Georgia Senate Seats", with trillions in "stimmies" flooding both the economy and the market, not only did retail traders enjoy unprecedented returns when trading meme "stonks" and forcing short squeezes that crippled numerous hedge funds, but expectations of sharply higher inflation also helped push bitcoin and the entire crypto sector to new all time highs, which in turn legitimized the product across institutional investors and helped it reach a market cap north of $3 trillion.  In 19th spot, over 613,000 readers were thrilled to read at the start of September that "Biden Unveils Most Severe COVID Actions Yet: Mandates Vax For All Federal Workers, Contractors, & Large Private Companies." Of course, just a few weeks later much of Biden's mandate would be struck down in courts, where it is now headed to a decision by SCOTUS, while the constantly shifting "scientific" goal posts mean that just a few months later the latest set of CDC regulations have seen regulators and officials reverse the constant drone of fearmongering and are now even seeking to cut back on the duration of quarantine and other lockdown measures amid a public mood that is growing increasingly hostile to the government response. One of the defining political events of 2021 was the so-called "Jan 6 Insurrection", which the for America's conservatives was blown wildly out of proportion yet which the leftist media and Democrats in Congress have been periodically trying to push to the front pages in hopes of distracting from the growing list of failures of the Obama admin. Yet as we asked back in January, "Why Was Founder Of Far-Left BLM Group Filming Inside Capitol As Police Shot Protester?" No less than 614,000 readers found this question worthy of a response. Since then many more questions have emerged surrounding this event, many of which focus on what role the FBI had in organizing and encouraging this event, including the use of various informants and instigators. For now, a response will have to wait at least until the mid-term elections of 2022 when Republicans are expected to sweep one if not both chambers. Linked to the above, the 17th most read article of 2021 with 617,000 views, was an article we published on the very same day, which detailed that "Armed Protesters Begin To Arrive At State Capitols Around The Nation." At the end of the day, it was much ado about nothing and all protests concluded peacefully and without incident: perhaps the FBI was simply spread too thin? 2021 was a year defined by various waves of the covid pandemic which hammered poor Americans forced to hunker down at home and missing on pay, and crippled countless small mom and pop businesses. And yet, it was also a bonanza for a handful of pharma companies such as Pfizer and Moderna which made billions from the sale of "vaccines" which we now know do little if anything to halt the spread of the virus, and are instead now being pitched as palliatives, preventing a far worse clinical outcome. The same pharma companies also benefited from an unconditional indemnity, which surely would come in useful when the full side-effects of their mRNA-based therapies became apparent. One such condition to emerge was myocarditis among a subset of the vaxxed. And while the vaccines continue to be broadly rolled out across most developed nations, one place that said enough was Sweden. As over 620,000 readers found out in "Sweden Suspends Moderna Shot Indefinitely After Vaxxed Patients Develop Crippling Heart Condition", not every country was willing to use its citizens as experimental guniea pigs. This was enough to make the article the 16th most read on these pages, but perhaps in light of the (lack of) debate over the pros and cons of the covid vaccines, this should have been the most read article this year? Moving on to the 15th most popular article, 628,000 readers were shocked to learn that "Chase Bank Cancels General Mike Flynn's Credit Cards." The action, which was taken by the largest US bank due to "reputational risk" echoed a broad push by tech giants to deplatform and silence dissenting voices by literally freezing them out of the financial system. In the end, following widespread blowback from millions of Americans, JPMorgan reversed, and reactivated Flynn's cards saying the action was made in error, but unfortunately this is just one example of how those in power can lock out any dissenters with the flick of a switch. And while democrats cheer such deplatforming today, the political winds are fickle, and we doubt they will be as excited once they find themselves on the receiving end of such actions. And speaking of censorship and media blackouts, few terms sparked greater response from those in power than the term Ivermectin. Viewed by millions as a cheap, effective alternative to offerings from the pharmaceutical complex, social networks did everything in their power to silence any mention of a drug which the Journal of Antibiotics said in 2017 was an "enigmatic multifaceted ‘wonder’ drug which continues to surprise and exceed expectations." Nowhere was this more obvious than in the discussion of how widespread use of Ivermectin beat Covid in India, the topic of the 14th most popular article of 2021 "India's Ivermectin Blackout" which was read by over 653,000 readers. Unfortunately, while vaccines continue to fail upward and now some countries are now pushing with a 4th, 5th and even 6th vaccine, Ivermectin remains a dirty word. There was more covid coverage in the 13th most popular article of 2021, "Surprise Surprise - Fauci Lied Again": Rand Paul Reacts To Wuhan Bombshell" which was viewed no less than 725,000 times. Paul's reaction came following a report which revealed that Anthony Fauci's NIAID and its parent, the NIH, funded Gain-of-Function research in Wuhan, China, strongly hinting that the emergence of covid was the result of illicit US funding. Not that long ago, Fauci had called Paul a 'liar' for accusing him of funding the risky research, in which viruses are genetically modified or otherwise altered to make them more transmissible to humans. And while we could say that Paul got the last laugh, Fauci still remains Biden's top covid advisor, which may explain why one year after Biden vowed he would shut down the pandemic, the number of new cases just hit a new all time high. One hope we have for 2022 is that people will finally open their eyes... 2021 was not just about covid - soaring prices and relentless inflation were one of the most poignant topics. It got so bad that Biden's approval rating - and that of Democrats in general - tumbled toward the end of the year, putting their mid-term ambitions in jeopardy, as the public mood soured dramatically in response to the explosion in prices. And while one can debate whether it was due to supply-issues, such as the collapse in trans-pacific supply chains and the chronic lack of labor to grow the US infrastructure, or due to roaring demand sparked by trillions in fiscal stimulus, but when the "Big Short" Michael Burry warned that hyperinflation is coming, the people listened, and with over 731,000 reads, the 12th most popular article of 2021 was "Michael Burry Warns Weimar Hyperinflation Is Coming."  Of course, Burry did not say anything we haven't warned about for the past 12 years, but at least he got the people's attention, and even mainstream names such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey agreed with him, predicting that bitcoin will be what is left after the dollar has collapsed. While hyperinflation may will be the endgame, the question remains: when. For the 11th most read article of 2021, we go back to a topic touched upon moments ago when we addressed the full-blown media campaign seeking to discredit Ivermectin, in this case via the D-grade liberal tabloid Rolling Stone (whose modern incarnation is sadly a pale shadow of the legend that house Hunter S. Thompson's unforgettable dispatches) which published the very definition of fake news when it called Ivermectin a "horse dewormer" and claimed that, according to a hospital employee, people were overdosing on it. Just a few hours later, the article was retracted as we explained in "Rolling Stone Issues 'Update' After Horse Dewormer Hit-Piece Debunked" and over 812,000 readers found out that pretty much everything had been a fabrication. But of course, by then it was too late, and the reputation of Ivermectin as a potential covid cure had been further tarnished, much to the relief of the pharma giants who had a carte blanche to sell their experimental wares. The 10th most popular article of 2021 brings us to another issue that had split America down the middle, namely the story surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse and the full-blown media campaign that declared the teenager guilty, even when eventually proven innocent. Just days before the dramatic acquittal, we learned that "FBI Sat On Bombshell Footage From Kyle Rittenhouse Shooting", which was read by over 822,000 readers. It was unfortunate to learn that once again the scandal-plagued FBI stood at the center of yet another attempt at mass misinformation, and we can only hope that one day this "deep state" agency will be overhauled from its core, or better yet, shut down completely. As for Kyle, he will have the last laugh: according to unconfirmed rumors, his numerous legal settlements with various media outlets will be in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.  And from the great US social schism, we again go back to Covid for the 9th most popular article of 2021, which described the terrifying details of one of the most draconian responses to covid in the entire world: that of Australia. Over 900,000 readers were stunned to read that the "Australian Army Begins Transferring COVID-Positive Cases, Contacts To Quarantine Camps." Alas, the latest surge in Australian cases to nosebleed, record highs merely confirms that this unprecedented government lockdown - including masks and vaccines - is nothing more than an exercise in how far government can treat its population as a herd of sheep without provoking a violent response.  The 8th most popular article of 2021 looks at the market insanity of early 2021 when, at the end of January, we saw some of the most-shorted, "meme" stocks explode higher as the Reddit daytrading horde fixed their sights on a handful of hedge funds and spent billions in stimmies in an attempt to force unprecedented ramps. That was the case with "GME Soars 75% After-Hours, Erases Losses After Liquidity-Constrained Robinhood Lifts Trading Ban", which profiled the daytrading craze that gave an entire generation the feeling that it too could win in these manipulated capital markets. Then again, judging by the waning retail interest, it is possible that the excitement of the daytrading army is fading as rapidly as it first emerged, and that absent more "stimmies" markets will remain the playground of the rich and central banks. Kyle Rittenhouse may soon be a very rich man after the ordeal he went through, but the media's mission of further polarizing US society succeeded, and millions of Americans will never accept that the teenager was innocent. It's also why with just over 1 million reads, the 7th most read article on Zero Hedge this year was that "Portland Rittenhouse Protest Escalates Into Riot." Luckily, this is not a mid-term election year and there were no moneyed interests seeking to prolong this particular riot, unlike what happened in the summer of 2020... and what we are very much afraid will again happen next year when very critical elections are on deck.  With just over 1.03 million views, the 6th most popular post focused on a viral Twitter thread on Friday from Dr Robert Laone, which laid out a disturbing trend; the most-vaccinated countries in the world are experiencing  a surge in COVID-19 cases, while the least-vaccinated countries were not. As we originally discussed in ""This Is Worrying Me Quite A Bit": mRNA Vaccine Inventor Shares Viral Thread Showing COVID Surge In Most-Vaxxed Countries", this trend has only accelerated in recent weeks with the emergence of the Omicron strain. Unfortunately, instead of engaging in a constructive discussion to see why the science keeps failing again and again, Twitter's response was chilling: with just days left in 2021, it suspended the account of Dr. Malone, one of the inventors of mRNA technology. Which brings to mind something Aaron Rogers said: "If science can't be questioned it's not science anymore it's propaganda & that's the truth." In a year that was marked a flurry of domestic fiascoes by the Biden administration, it is easy to forget that the aged president was also responsible for the biggest US foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, when the botched evacuation of Afghanistan made the US laughing stock of the world after 12 US servicemembers were killed. So it's probably not surprising that over 1.1 million readers were stunned to watch what happened next, which we profiled in the 5th most popular post of 2021, where in response to the Afghan trajedy, "Biden Delivers Surreal Press Conference, Vows To Hunt Down Isis, Blames Trump." One person watching the Biden presser was Xi Jinping, who may have once harbored doubts about reclaiming Taiwan but certainly does not any more. The 4th most popular article of 2021 again has to do with with covid, and specifically the increasingly bizarre clinical response to the disease. As we detailed in "Something Really Strange Is Happening At Hospitals All Over America" while emergency rooms were overflowing, it certainly wasn't from covid cases. Even more curiously, one of the primary ailments leading to an onslaught on ERs across the nation was heart-related issues, whether arrhytmia, cardiac incidents or general heart conditions. We hope that one day there will be a candid discussion on this topic, but until then it remains one of the topics seen as taboo by the mainstream media and the deplatforming overlords, so we'll just leave it at that. We previously discussed the anti-Ivermectin narrative that dominated the mainstream press throughout 2021 and the 3rd most popular article of the year may hold clues as to why: in late September, pharma giant Pfizer and one of the two companies to peddle an mRNA based vaccine, announced that it's launching an accelerated Phase 2/3 trial for a COVID prophylactic pill designed to ward off COVID in those may have come in contact with the disease. And, as we described in "Pfizer Launches Final Study For COVID Drug That's Suspiciously Similar To 'Horse Paste'," 1.75 million readers learned that Pfizer's drug shared at least one mechanism of action as Ivermectin - an anti-parasitic used in humans for decades, which functions as a protease inhibitor against Covid-19, which researchers speculate "could be the biophysical basis behind its antiviral efficiency." Surely, this too was just another huge coincidence. In the second most popular article of 2021, almost 2 million readers discovered (to their "shock") that Fauci and the rest of Biden's COVID advisors were proven wrong about "the science" of COVID vaccines yet again. After telling Americans that vaccines offer better protection than natural infection, a new study out of Israel suggested the opposite is true: natural infection offers a much better shield against the delta variant than vaccines, something we profiled in "This Ends The Debate' - Israeli Study Shows Natural Immunity 13x More Effective Than Vaccines At Stopping Delta." We were right about one thing: anyone who dared to suggest that natural immunity was indeed more effective than vaccines was promptly canceled and censored, and all debate almost instantly ended. Since then we have had tens of millions of "breakout" cases where vaccinated people catch covid again, while any discussion why those with natural immunity do much better remains under lock and key. It may come as a surprise to many that the most read article of 2021 was not about covid, or Biden, or inflation, or China, or even the extremely polarized US congress (and/or society), but was about one of the most long-suffering topics on these pages: precious metals and their prices. Yes, back in February the retail mania briefly targeted silver and as millions of reddit daytraders piled in in hopes of squeezing the precious metal higher, the price of silver surged higher only to tumble just as quickly as it has risen as the seller(s) once again proved more powerful than the buyers. We described this in "Silver Futures Soar 8%, Rise Above $29 As Reddit Hordes Pile In", an article which some 2.4 million gold and silver bugs read with hope, only to see their favorite precious metals slump for much of the rest of the year. And yes, the fact that both gold and silver ended the year sharply lower than where they started even though inflation hit the highest level in 40 years, remains one of the great mysteries of 2021. With all that behind us, and as we wave goodbye to another bizarre, exciting, surreal year, what lies in store for 2022, and the next decade? We don't know: as frequent and not so frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don't try despite endless allegations that we constantly predict the collapse of civilization: we leave the predicting to the "smartest people in the room" who year after year have been consistently wrong about everything, and never more so than in 2021 (even the Fed admitted it is clueless when Powell said it was time to retire the term "transitory"), which destroyed the reputation of central banks, of economists, of conventional media and the professional "polling" and "strategist" class forever, not to mention all those "scientists" who made a mockery of the "expertise class" with their bungled response to the covid pandemic. We merely observe, find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly bizarre, sad, and increasingly crazy world, and then just write about it. We do know, however, that after a record $30 trillion in stimulus was conjured out of thin air by the world's central banks and politicians in the past two years, the attempt to reverse this monetary and fiscal firehose in a world addicted to trillions in newly created liquidity now that central banks are freaking out after finally getting ot the inflation they were hoping to create for so long, will end in tears. We are confident, however, that in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will eventually be revealed as fully naked. When that happens and what happens after is anyone's guess. But, as we have promised - and delivered - every year for the past 13, we will be there to document every aspect of it. Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2022, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2021 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day - usually with a cynical smile - helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that defines every aspect of our increasingly broken system. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/02/2022 - 03:44.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 2nd, 2022

Watch The Top 5%... They"re The Key To The Whole Economy

Watch The Top 5%... They're The Key To The Whole Economy Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog, Go ahead and become dependent on asset bubbles and the free spending of the top 5%, and optimize your economy to serve this "growth," but be prepared for the consequences when the costs of this optimization and dependency come due. Here's the problem with concentrating most of the income and wealth in the top 5%: the whole economy now depends on their spending and "the wealth effect" of bubbles driving that spending. As the charts below show, the top tier of households own the vast majority of the wealth and take home roughly half of all income, including virtually all (97%) the income derived from capital. By inflating an enormous everything bubble, the Federal Reserve and other central banks have inflated the "wealth" of this top tier. This was of course the plan: by artificially inflating asset bubbles, the central bankers believed that those seeing their net worth expand would loosen their purse strings and borrow and spend freely: the wealth effect. The problem with relying on the the wealth effect is that if wealth has concentrated in the top, then only the top will benefit. The bottom 50% own virtually no capital (see chart below) and the modest wealth owned by the bottom 90% generates a mere 3% of all income derived from assets (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.). Monopoly Versus Democracy: How to End a Gilded Age (foreignaffairs.com): Ten percent of Americans now control 97 percent of all capital income in the country. Nearly half of the new income generated since the global financial crisis of 2008 has gone to the wealthiest one percent of U.S. citizens. The richest three Americans collectively have more wealth than the poorest 160 million Americans. In other words, the Fed has made the rich much, much richer not for being more productive but simply for being rich to start with. Trends in income and wealth inequality (pewresearch.org): For the top 5%, it increased by 4%, to $4.8 million. In contrast, the net worth of families in lower tiers of wealth decreased by at least 20% from 2007 to 2016. The greatest loss -- 39% -- was experienced by the families in the second quintile of wealth, whose wealth fell from $32,100 in 2007 to $19,500 in 2016. As a result, the wealth gap between America's richest and poorer families more than doubled from 1989 to 2016. In 1989, the richest 5% of families had 114 times as much wealth as families in the second quintile, $2.3 million compared with $20,300. By 2016, this ratio had increased to 248, a much sharper rise than the widening gap in income. Since virtually all the wealth effect is concentrated in the top tier, it only affects the spending of the top tier. Spending by the bottom 95% has stagnated, and so the policy "fix" to this monumental inequality generated by inflating asset bubbles is to give cash to the bottom 90% via various "stimulus" programs. The bottom 90% promptly spent the free money but since neither their wealth nor their stagnating income increased, the spending boost from this snort of fiscal cocaine has already faded. What happens when you concentrate half of all income and the vast majority of all wealth in the top tier? Your economy become completely dependent on 1) keeping that asset bubble expanding forever and 2) the spending of the top 5%. The problem in making your entire economy dependent on spending generated by asset bubbles is that all bubbles pop. Strangely enough, printing trillions of dollars, borrowing additional trillions and blowing trillions on stock buybacks have consequences beyond just further inflating asset bubbles, systemic consequences which eventually deflate all the bubbles. The top 5% are now the key to the entire economy. If they start selling assets to lock in profits or reduce risk, the asset bubbles will pop because the bottom 95% don't have the wealth or income to buy tens of trillions of assets from the top 5%: the top 5% buy and sell to other 5%-percenters because no one else has the income or wealth to buy tens of trillions in assets. If the top 5% reduce spending for any reason, then the economy craters. The logic can't be revoked by magical thinking: 1. Since all asset bubbles pop, this asset bubble will pop. 2. Once this bubble pops, the spending of those seeing their "wealth" diminish will decline. Since the spending of the top 5% has been the only source of higher consumption, the economy has been optimized to serve the top 5%. Hence the proliferation of fine-dining restaurants, pricey AirBNB rentals in exotic destinations, luxury brand boutiques, etc. Once the top 5% no longer have the means or desire to spend freely on discretionary purchases, a huge swath of the U.S. economy falls into an abyss. And since we've structured our system to make the rich richer so they can spend more, there is no substitute source of spending to replace the collapse of top 5% spending. Optimization and dependency have consequences. Go ahead and become dependent on asset bubbles and the free spending of the top 5%, and optimize your economy to serve this "growth," but be prepared for the consequences when the costs of this optimization and dependency come due. *  *  * My new book is now available at a 20% discount this month: Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $8.95, print $20). If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/23/2021 - 06:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 23rd, 2021

Futures Ramp Above 4,700 On Growing Omicron Optimism

Futures Ramp Above 4,700 On Growing Omicron Optimism If you had gone to bed on Thanksgiving after eating a little too much tryptophan and only woken up today, roughly one month later, you would have completely avoided a rollercoaster move in global markets, and much of the omicron panic, with the S&P now trading precisely where it was the night before scattered reports of Omicron in South Africa sparked a global selloff. As of 730am, e-mini S&P futures were trading at exactly 4,700, up 14 points or 0.3% - and once again less than 1% from all time highs - on rising hopes the omicron variant won’t impact global growth even as officials remain cautious about its spread, after studies showed it’s less severe than other strains; Dow Jones futures also rose 0.3% while Nasdaq 100 futures were 0.2% higher. US Treasury yields rose, the 10Y trading at 1.475%, while the USD index traded flat. The  pound rose as traders stepped up bets on a Bank of England rate hike. Soaraing European natural gas prices plunged more than 20% as this year’s rally attracted a flotilla of U.S. cargoes, helping offset lower flows from Russia. U.S. stocks reversed a sharp drop earlier in the week, advancing over the past two days amid signs the omicron variant won’t thwart growth, with consumer confidence rising by more than expected in December. Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 pill gained clearance for emergency use in the U.S. on Wednesday and three studies showed omicron appears less likely to land patients in the hospital than the delta strain, fueling optimism.  Adding to the positive newsflow on omicron, lab results indicated a third dose of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine significantly boosted antibodies against the strain, and Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 pill gained clearance for emergency use in the U.S. “Markets hate uncertainty and not knowing, and when omicron hit the markets, we didn’t know,” Carol Schleif, BMO Family Office deputy chief investment officer, said on Bloomberg Television. “But it seems like it’s edging toward something more positive.” A gauge of global stocks is up more than 2% so far this month, leaving the index 15% higher for the year and on course to surpass 2020’s gain. In U.S. premarket trading, Tesla Inc. shares rose after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk sold down more of his stake. Nikola gained after the electric-vehicle startup said that more deliveries were to come. Here are some other notable premarket movers today: Novavax (NVAX US) shares jump 5% in U.S. premarket after the biotech firm said that both a vaccine booster dose as well as an omicron-specific shot may be beneficial in helping to protect against the Covid-19 variant. Nikola (NKLA US) rises 3.5% in U.S. premarket trading after the electric-vehicle startup said on Twitter that more deliveries were to come, posting photos of a previous event. Tesla (TSLA US) shares gain 1.1% in U.S. premarket trading after CEO Elon Musk sells down more of his stake, drawing nearer to his pledge of cutting his stake in the EV maker by 10%. JD.com’s (JD US) ADRs slump 9.2% in U.S. premarket trading after Tencent said it plans to hand out more than $16 billion of JD.com shares to its investors as a one-time dividend. SciPlay (SCPL US) the maker of mobile and web games such as Jackpot Party Casino, falls 17% in premarket after ending talks to sell out to majority owner Scientific Games. Shares in tiny biotech stocks soar in U.S. premarket trading in strong volume, amid broad risk-on appetite thanks to positive omicron variant studies, ahead of the holiday period. “Our outlook for the global economy remains positive, but we have preference on developed markets,” Janet Mui, director of investment at Brewin Dolphin Limited, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “The economic recovery will continue in the major economies like the U.S., U.K. and the Euro area, thanks to the very high vaccination rates and ongoing rollout of the booster jabs.” Elsewhere, European shares advanced for a third day, with travel shares leading gains. The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.6%; travel is the strongest sector with recent studies showing omicron appears less likely to land patients in the hospital than the delta strain. IBEX leads with a 1% gain. Travel and leisure was the top-performing sector in Europe on Thursday amid optimism of fewer hospitalizations linked to the omicron variant of Covid-19. Airlines shruged off a profit warning from Ryanair (+1.1%) that was first reported late in the trading session on Wednesday. British Airways-owner IAG adds 3.7%, Wizz +3.3%, hotelier Whitbread +2.6%, Deutsche Lufthansa +2%, caterer Sodexo +0.8%. Stoxx travel and leisure index also helped by Flutter (+3%) which gains following M&A news Earlier in the session, Asian stocks were on track to gain for a third straight day, bolstered by signs the omicron strain is less severe than previous variants. Tech and communication services sectors led the advance. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed as much as 0.9%, with Tencent as the biggest contributor to gains after a 4.2% rally in Hong Kong. The Chinese internet giant declared a one-time dividend in the form of JD.com’s shares worth more than $16 billion, causing the latter’s stock to plunge intraday by the most on record. Sentiment in Asia improved as a trio of studies found that the omicron variant led to lower hospitalization risk than the delta strain, and Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 pill gained clearance for emergency use in the U.S. Separately, lab results indicated a third dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine significantly boosted antibodies against the strain though another study released late in the Asia day found that three doses of Sinovac’s vaccine weren’t enough to protect against it. “We expect Asian equities to improve their relative performance in 2022 given less demanding valuations and prospects for solid earnings growth,” said Tai Hui, Asia chief market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management. “Reflation and economic reopening could help to boost earnings expectations for cyclical sectors, especially those focusing on domestic demand.” The MSCI Asia Pacific Index is down almost 4% for the year compared with a 25% gain in the S&P 500 Index, which is trading close to a record high.  Equity benchmarks in the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand were among the top gainers amid a broad advance in the region Thursday even as trading volumes were thin ahead of the Christmas holidays. Japan stocks also rose as the country looks set to unveil another record annual budget this week. Shares in China also rose even as the country locked down the western city of Xi’an to stamp out a persistent virus outbreak. Equities slumped in Vietnam as Covid-19 cases continued to rise. In rates, fixed income is thin with only ~100k bund futures contracts trading as of 10:50am London. Cash space is under small pressure: bunds and USTs bear steepen, gilts bear flatten with short dates ~5bps cheaper. 10-year TSY yields were around 1.47%, with gilts notably underperforming and are cheaper by around 3bp in the sector vs. Treasuries; curves are steady with U.S. cash spreads broadly within a basis point of Wednesday close. Treasuries drifted lower into early U.S. session as S&P futures grind higher. 10-year futures remained inside Wednesday session lows with yields cheaper by up to 2bp across long-end of the curve. Thursday’s highlights include a packed data slate, and cash markets are due for an early 2pm ET close ahead of Friday’s full closure. In FX, tge Bloomberg dollar index chopped either side of flat. The pound was the stand out mover in London hours, topping the G-10 leaderboard with cable regaining a 1.34 handle. USD/JPY was little changed as it holds above 114. Aussie dollar drifts back towards 0.72 against the greenback. Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index is steady after falling for three days. In commodities, crude futures are little changed; WTI trades near $72.70. Spot gold is rangebound, holding just above $1,800/oz. Most base metals are in the green, drifting higher in quiet trade. LME copper and tin lag. European natural gas prices plunged more than 20% as this year’s rally attracted a flotilla of U.S. cargoes, helping offset lower flows from Russia. Looking at today's calendar, we get personal spending and income as well as a new look at inflation data, including the Fed’s preferred price measure -- the change in the core personal consumption expenditures price index -- and jobless claims. We also get the latest Durable goods orders, UMichigan sentiment and new home sales prints. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.1% to 4,692.00 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.4% to 480.16 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.28% Euro little changed at $1.1317 MXAP up 0.9% to 192.23 MXAPJ up 0.8% to 623.33 Nikkei up 0.8% to 28,798.37 Topix up 0.9% to 1,989.43 Hang Seng Index up 0.4% to 23,193.64 Shanghai Composite up 0.6% to 3,643.34 Sensex up 0.7% to 57,350.50 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.3% to 7,387.57 Kospi up 0.5% to 2,998.17 Brent Futures down 0.4% to $74.99/bbl Gold spot up 0.2% to $1,807.61 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.16 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The highly-mutated omicron variant appears less likely to land patients in the hospital with Covid-19 than the delta strain, according to preliminary data from a trio of studies France reported a jump in Covid-19 infections as the fast-spreading omicron variant tightens its grip on Europe The Chinese yuan is having a greater impact on its emerging-market counterparts than ever before and may play a crucial role in determining their performance in the coming year New Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s rhetoric of distributing wealth more equally appears to signal a change of priorities for post-pandemic Japan that may run counter to plans to improve the country’s presence as an international financial hub Oil settled at the highest level in nearly a month after U.S. crude stockpiles decreased and economic data pushed equities higher A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac equities traded modestly higher amid some tailwinds from Wall Street in holiday-thinned trade and the absence of fresh catalysts. The US majors closed in the green across the board, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq propelled higher by Tesla shares which jumped 7.5% to regain USD 1tln market cap. US equity futures resumed trade relatively flat with an upside bias. In APAC, the ASX 200 (+0.3%) was supported by its gold miners following the recent gains in the yellow metal. Japan’s Nikkei 225 (+0.6%) was underpinned by its mining names, while South Korea’s KOSPI (+0.2%) saw gains in Tech mostly offset by losses in Autos. The Hang Seng (+0.3%) and Shanghai Comp (+0.2%) quickly dipped at the open into modest negative territory but later recovered. The overnight focus was on Tencent declaring an interim dividend payable in JD.com shares – which would reduce Tencent's holding of JD to about 2.3% vs prev. nearly 17% reported earlier this month. JD.com shares extended downside in early trade to losses of over 10%, whilst Tencent rose over 3%. US 10yr Treasury futures traded with no firm direction overnight despite the mild positivity seen across APAC stocks, with the debt now looking ahead to the November PCE report. Top Asian News Asian Stocks Head for Third Day of Gains as Tencent Shares Rally Alibaba-Backed RoboSense Said to Pick JPMorgan for Hong Kong IPO Foreigners Haven’t Finished Selling India Stocks: Street Wrap Asia Traders Are Most Bullish Stocks, Europe Least: Markets Live European bourses are firmer in very thin trading conditions, with a distinct holiday-feel setting in. News flow has been minimal, and remains focused on the familiar themes of Omicron and geopolitics. The Euro Stoxx 50 trades around +0.5%, after a constructive handover from Asia, although there are some very modest regional discrepancies. Sectors are predominantly in the green, with the likes of Travel & Leisure, Oil & Gas, and Autos benefitting from the generally constructive tone of news flow around Omicron. US futures are firmer, though the magnitude is limited, and benchmarks have essentially been in a holding pattern since the US cash close on Wednesday. Top European News Spain Revises GDP Growth Sharply Higher After Data Doubts Traders Ramp Up BOE Bets to See Key Rate at 1.25% Next Year U.K. PM Not Expected to Announce Post-Xmas Curbs This Week: Sky Pound Reaches One-Month High After BOE Rate Hike Bets Increase In FX, in stark contrast to this time yesterday, the Dollar index is trying to grind higher from a fractionally firmer base between 96.018-199 parameters, though well below Tuesday’s range amidst an ongoing improvement in overall risk sentiment based on the latest Omicron analysis. In short, studies continue to find lower hospital admissions and generally less acute symptoms even though the mutation is more virulent, while the current batch of vaccines provide varying degrees of protection and new drugs designed specifically for the new strain are in the pipeline. On the fundamental front, the final full trading day before the Xmas break contains some potential market-moving US data, including the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, core PCE, plus jobless claims, new home sales and the often volatile durable goods. NZD/GBP/AUD - The Kiwi, Pound and Aussie have all picked up where they left off on Wednesday, with impetus from the aforementioned positive market tone allied to increasingly bullish technical impulses. Indeed, Nzd/Usd didn’t encounter much in the way of psychological resistance at 0.6800, while Sterling has breached 1.3350 more emphatically to expose/probe 1.3400 and Aud/Usd overcame any sentimentality that might have hampered its progress beyond 0.7200. Cable has also advanced with the aid of Eur/Gbp tailwinds as the cross approaches 0.8450 following sell orders above, and an element of relief after reports suggesting that UK PM Johnson is now likely to hold off from making any further decisions on pandemic measures until after Xmas. Back down under, some good news for the Aussie via a pickup in private sector credit and loans for housing. CAD/EUR - Both narrowly mixed vs their US counterpart, but the Loonie has extended its rebound towards 1.2800 in advance of Canadian monthly GDP and average weekly earnings, while the Euro is forming a firmer base on the 1.1300 handle as EGBs continue to underperform/outperform in futures and cash terms respectively. However, Eur/Usd topped out around 1.1341/2 again and may be wary of decent option expiry interest between 1.1330-40 in 1.3 bn as much as 1.6 bn rolling off at 1.1300-05. CHF/JPY - The Franc and Yen are still lagging on risk factors and their carry characteristics, with the former unable to sustain advances through 0.9200 against the Buck and the latter failing to overcome offers/resistance into 114.00. Hence, Usd/Jpy remains poised for more attempts to scale the next Fib retracement at 114.38 in the run up to Japanese inflation data and post-remarks from BoJ Kuroda who adhered to pretty standard lines on currency matters. To recap, he repeated that FX rates must move in a stable fashion and reflect economic fundamentals, while the negative impact of a weak Jpy on Japanese household income may be increasing, though the benefits outweigh the demerits. In commodities, crude benchmarks continue to see modest pressure that crept in during APAC trade; Brent is pivoting USD 75.00/bbl, with losses of circa USD 0.30/bbl. News flow has been minimal. Russia’s President Putin is making some geopolitical noises, although he is largely reiterating familiar themes. Elsewhere, Exxon’s (XOM) Baytown complex (560k BPD capacity) in Texas reported a fire at a gasoline component processing unit; reports thus far indicate no facility impact from this incident. Moving to metals, spot gold and silver remain contained as the yellow metal holds onto the USD 1800/oz mark it reclaimed amid USD weakness in APAC hours. While base metals are firmer but again within familiar ranges. Russian President Putin says Russia meets gas supply obligations under long-term deals, prior to providing gas to spot markets; adds that Gazprom has not booked gas via the Yamal-Europe line due to a lack of requests, pipeline in reverse mode. Europe has created its own gas problems, should resolve this themselves; are prepared to assist.Germany is selling Russian gas to Poland, think it ends up in Ukraine. Exxon (XOM) Baytown complex (560k BPD capacity) in Texas has reported a fire at the facility, according to the community alert system; Some injuries have been reported following a 'major industrial accident' at the Exxon (XOM) Baytown complex (560k BPD capacity) in Texas, via the Harris County Sheriff - No reports to evacuate/shelter in place after the fire. Based on current information, no adverse impact. US Event Calendar 8:30am: Dec. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 205,000, prior 206,000; Continuing Claims, est. 1.84m, prior 1.85m 8:30am: Nov. Personal Income, est. 0.4%, prior 0.5% Personal Spending, est. 0.6%, prior 1.3% 8:30am: Nov. PCE Deflator MoM, est. 0.6%, prior 0.6%; YoY, est. 5.7%, prior 5.0% PCE Core Deflator MoM, est. 0.4%, prior 0.4%; YoY, est. 4.5%, prior 4.1% 8:30am: Nov. Durable Goods Orders, est. 1.8%, prior -0.4% Durables-Less Transportation, est. 0.6%, prior 0.5% Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.7%, prior 0.7% Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.6%, prior 0.4% 10am: Nov. New Home Sales MoM, est. 3.3%, prior 0.4% 10am: Dec. U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 70.4, prior 70.4 Current Conditions, prior 74.6 Expectations, prior 67.8 1 Yr Inflation, est. 4.9%, prior 4.9%; 5-10 Yr Inflation, prior 3.0%; 10am: Nov. New Home Sales, est. 770,000, prior 745,000 Tyler Durden Thu, 12/23/2021 - 08:06.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 23rd, 2021

Trump says he"s holding a news conference at Mar-a-Lago on January 6, the anniversary of the Capitol riot

"Until then, remember, the insurrection took place on November 3rd," Trump said, claiming the January 6 Capitol riot was an "unarmed protest." Former President Donald Trump speaks to the press at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 22, 2018.Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images Former President Donald Trump says he's holding a news conference at Mar-a-Lago on January 6, 2022. Trump announced the event, which falls on the anniversary of the Capitol siege, in a statement on Tuesday. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced plans to commemorate the day as well. Former President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he will be hosting a news conference at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on January 6, exactly one year after a mob of his supporters stormed the US Capitol."Why isn't the Unselect Committee of highly partisan political hacks investigating the CAUSE of the January 6th protest, which was the rigged Presidential Election of 2020?" Trump wrote in a statement. Trump was apparently referring to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, which has interviewed at least 300 people and recently uncovered shocking text messages from Donald Trump Jr., Fox News hosts, and lawmakers to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on the day of the attack.The former president went on to say that the committee wants to "stay as far away from" claims of a rigged 2020 presidential election as possible, before asking supporters to "look at what is going on now" in several US states, though it was unclear what Trump was referring to.He went on to castigate "RINOs" — an acronym for "Republican in Name Only" — presumably referring to his opponents within the party, such as Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who sit on the January 6 committee."In many ways a RINO is worse than a Radical Left Democrat," Trump said, "because you don't know where they are coming from and you have no idea how bad they really are for our Country.""The good news is there are fewer and fewer RINOs left as we elect strong Patriots who love America," he added. Trump has endorsed a primary challenger to Cheney, while he and other Republicans have moved to punish 13 House Republicans who bucked party leadership and voted for a bipartisan infrastructure bill in November."I will be having a news conference on January 6th at Mar-a-Lago to discuss all of these points, and more," he concluded. "Until then, remember, the insurrection took place on November 3rd, it was the completely unarmed protest of the rigged election that took place on January 6th."In contrast to Trump's claims, many of his supporters were armed when they stormed the Capitol nearly a year ago. Roughly 140 officers were injured in the attack, while 5 people died on that day. Officer Michael Fanone, a DC police officer who responded to the riot, detailed in July how he was dragged and beaten unconscious by Trump loyalists. Over 700 people have been charged in connection with the riot. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in a "Dear Colleague" letter on Monday that Congress would seek to commemorate the events of that day with a "full program of events."Those events, according to Pelosi, will include a discussions with historians about "the narrative of that day," a chance for members of Congress to share experiences and reflections from that day, and vigils. She also said the events will be livestreamed."As always, we will continue to work with the House Historian to establish and preserve our records in this regard," Pelosi said.The White House has also said it plans to commemorate that day, though no details have been provided as of now. The US Senate is scheduled to be in session on January 6, though at least one senator has expressed reservations about those plans.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 21st, 2021

Dow futures plunge as much as 600 points, as Omicron fears rock markets and Biden"s recovery plan falters on Manchin U-turn

Stock market investors are worried that the Omicron coronavirus variant could derail the global economic recovery. Omicron has prompted volatility in stocks.AP Photo/Richard Drew Dow Jones futures shed as much as 610 points Monday as worries about Omicron shook stock markets. Investors also fretted about Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin's rejection of Biden's "Build Back Better" US recovery plan. Netherlands is now in lockdown as Omicron spreads rapidly, and US medical advisor Anthony Fauci warned of heavy pressure on hospitals. Dow Jones futures fell as much as 610 points in European trading Monday, as the rapid spread of Omicron spooked investors and after Sen. Joe Manchin likely killed President Joe Biden's $1.75 trillion "Build Back Better" plan.Futures contracts on the Dow Jones industrials were down 1.24%, or 437 points, as of 5.50 a.m. ET Monday, after earlier dropping as much as 1.72%, or 608 points.S&P 500 futures fell 1.37%, while Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 1.56%. Analysts said thin volumes were adding to volatility. The decline came after the major US stock indexes closed a volatile week lower. In Europe, stocks tumbled at the open as governments weighed up imposing new restrictions on movement and the economy to try to curb the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. The continent-wide Stoxx 600 was down 1.6%, coming back from a 2.46% drop earlier. London's FTSE 100 was 1.17% lower.Asian stocks also slid overnight. China's CSI 300 lost 1.5% despite the central bank cutting a key interest rate, its 1-year Loan Prime Rate, by 5 basis points. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 2.13%.The Omicron variant — first discovered in southern Africa at the end of November — is ripping through the UK and is now spreading rapidly in the US and Europe.Anthony Fauci, the US president's chief medical adviser, said Sunday that US hospitals could become "very stressed" in a week or two as Omicron cases spread, although he said a lockdown is unlikely.The government of Netherlands imposed a new lockdown from Sunday, and a handful of countries have blocked travel from the UK. That has made investors worried about the new variant's economic impact."Markets this week and next will be for day-traders with steely nerves and deep pockets," Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda, said in a note. "The winner in December is V for volatility."US stock markets will be closed on Friday, December 24, as Christmas Day falls on a Saturday.Read more: A 29-year market vet shares 5 indicators that show why the perfect storm is brewing for stocks to suffer a massive downturn as the Fed prepares to completely pull its support over the next few monthsAlso weighing on investors' minds were comments by Manchin, a Democratic senator from West Virginia, which all but tank Biden's almost $2 trillion social spending and climate plan."I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation," Manchin told Fox News.Goldman Sachs cut its forecast for the US economy after Manchin's move. The bank said it now sees 2% growth in the first quarter, compared with 3% previously. It also trimmed its second- and third-quarter forecasts.Central bankers' decisive pivot towards a tougher stance on inflation is also on investors' minds going into 2022.The Bank of England became the first major central bank to hike interest rates last week after inflation hit a decade high. The Federal Reserve is now talking much tougher on prices, with the market divided on whether the first interest rate hike will come in March or May.Bond yields dropped as investors sought out the safety of government securities. The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note was last down 13 basis points to 1.389%. Yields move inversely to prices.Oil prices fell sharply as traders bet new coronavirus restrictions will dampen demand for fuel. Brent crude was 3.24% lower at $71.14 a barrel, while WTI crude was down 3.94% at $60.07 a barrel.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 20th, 2021

TINA, BOGO & FOMO"s Engines Are Stuttering

TINA, BOGO & FOMO's Engines Are Stuttering Authored by Peter Tchir via Academy Securities, The Last Thing I Wanted to Write about is Omicron          I really didn’t want to have to start another weekend T-Report thinking about COVID. I would much rather have pointed you towards the excellent Around the World – Geopolitical Surprises, published Friday. I’d much prefer to jump into today’s themes, but it is difficult to talk about markets, the economy, or inflation without at least attempting to address what is going on with COVID. What we “seem” to know so far: Omicron is highly transmissible. The spread seems rapid and it seems to be able to infect people who have been vaccinated, who have had boosters, or who have had other variants. The symptoms seem relatively mild. That seems to be the case for those who have been vaccinated and those who have not been vaccinated. From what I can tell it is more severe for the unvaccinated, but even then, nowhere close to what we were seeing when COVID initially burst onto the scene. We have likely gotten far better at dealing with COVID. Knowing those most at risk presumably helps them be more cautious when necessary. Treatment options now exist unlike back in early 2020. We should be able to manage this much better. Have the politician’s gotten better at dealing with COVID? While I believe that the population at large actually has a decent understanding of the risks and is taking precautions as they see fit, the wildcard is what governments do with the latest variant. We are seeing countries in Europe revert to lockdowns. China, if it maintains its zero-tolerance policy, will see lockdowns as well. On Tuesday, President Biden is set to give a speech detailing our plans. As far as I can tell, lockdowns have become politically dangerous here. There seems to be (at least from everything I can tell) a large portion of the population that has done all the vaccinations and followed all the rules and doesn’t seem to believe that a lockdown is necessary given what we know about this variant. What politicians do may be more dangerous than the Omicron variant for markets and the economy. Several people that I find to be very good have expressed this view, and I agree with it. I think on Tuesday, President Biden will be cautious but avoid anything too disruptive. COVID Modelling  On Twitter, there is an interesting thread about COVID modelling that is worth reading. @NateSilver538 weighed in on the discussion, which is what caught my eye, as he is an expert at modelling. The original thread started with @FraserNelson (Editor of the Spectator, which I don’t know much about, and would have ignored, if not for Nate weighing in). The other participant is @GrahamMedley, professor of infectious disease modelling and chair of the SPI-M, a sub-group of SAGE, which seems to be responsible for the modelling that the U.K. government relies on. What is interesting is that the modelling focuses on what could be considered “worst-case” scenarios, certainly those where the population does little to curtail the spread. I am not sure what side of the argument I come out on (my bias is certainly towards probability weighted scenario analysis), but I’m not sure what the right approach is on this topic. Having said that, I found this thread fascinating and intend to dig deeper as it gives a little insight into the “science” and how politicians use (or even drive) the “science.” I am not sure what to make of this subject, and maybe it is nothing, but it caught my eye enough that I figured that I’d point it out to you as I suspect it will be a topic that gets addressed going forward giving us more insight into models and policy response. TINA, BOGO & FOMO’s Engines Are Stuttering Now we can focus on a few things that will be in play in the coming weeks. Year-end is always a difficult time to think about market direction as people are out of the office, liquidity is thin, people have positions to defend or push in an environment that makes it easier to push. And, this year, we have the impact of Omicron, and how politicians choose to respond to that. This week’s piece follows up on a few recent pieces: The Markets Love the FOMC – For Now. The Training Wheels are Off. To a lesser extent, Inflation, Like Greed, Is Good, which got a boost this past week with the Senate cracking down on slave labor in the Xinjiang Province of China. We are at the early stages of supply chain scrutiny, driven by ESG, and that will reshape the global economy. BOGO vs Quality Buy One, Get One free, or BOGO seems to be running rampant right now. If I check my emails, I think there are sales that started as Black Friday sales (on the Monday before Thanksgiving) that turned into Cyber Monday sales and are somehow “still” available today. It reminds me of the “going out of business” sales which would hit late night TV, where the seller seemed to be going out of business for years, despite creating an urgency on Saturday nights at 1 am. I think that there are a few important things to take away from this: There was a time, not that long ago, that if you slapped a big enough sale price on something, people would buy it. Now, and this is more anecdotal, but no one wants to buy things in “that color” or with those design “features” at a discount if no one wanted to buy them at regular price. Whether there is less care about owning the label rather than something that looked good, I am seeing/hearing about the trend towards quality. That extends, to some degree, not just to the product but to the procurement of that product. I believe that we will continue to see this trend towards “quality”, where people will pay more for the product they want, which will include factors such as country of origin, sustainability, and other potentially “intangible” factors that affect the perceived quality of a good or service. Capturing this shift will allow companies to drive sales and earnings. This phenomenon also seems to be hitting the stock market. Even as the S&P 500 and Nasdaq hover near all-time highs, there are a large number of stocks that are 50% below their peaks. Everywhere I turn, I see articles about the lack of breadth. How unusual it is for indices to be up 23% (S&P 500) year to date, with so many laggards. I highlight this, because as a contrarian, I naturally gravitate to these types of stocks. These, in theory, are stocks that could be ripe for huge bounces, possibly even short squeezes, and I’m finally inclined to get on that bandwagon. But (and this remains a big but) quality matters and half off sales now don’t attract buyers in stocks or goods. Maybe it is too early for some of these, despite the discounts? Fundamentals vs Technicals This little rant follows directly from the BOGO comments. The number of interviews I’ve watched or listened to recently where the pundit or stockpicker mentions that the recent 10%, or 25%, or even 50% pullback had nothing to do with fundamentals and has everything to do with technicals has reached a peak. It is driving me nuts! (I am sure that some of my comments on media drive people nuts as well, but that is a topic for another day). I am completely willing to accept that the drops are not associated with fundamentals per se. I am biased, so I do think broad shifts in the economy impact future fundamentals, but my main issue is that no one seems to believe that any of the 50% rises, or doublings, or even triplings, had anything to do with technicals and things out of their control. I can completely agree that a stock dropping 50% in a couple of months had more to do with positioning and other factors (which is why I love exploring those other factors). But I also believe that stocks that doubled or even quadrupled in a quarter or two likely weren’t being completely driven by fundamentals and other factors (like performance chasing, thin floats, etc.) impacted the upside. Not sure why this one bothers me so much, but I suspect that until there is more acceptance that these factors work both ways, there will be people holding positions that could be in for more downside. TINA vs There Is An Alternative Not sure what a good antonym for TINA would be and TIAA is already taken, but maybe someone will come up with a good one (or send me a good antonym if it already exists). While the Fed hasn’t hiked and interest rates across the globe remain low, Central Banks are gradually pumping less money into the economy. The “threat of hikes” is real. While today, I can’t say that there is an alternative, we are headed down a path to where there will be alternatives which should offer opportunities and add to some existing risks. FOMO’s Engines are Stuttering While FOMO’s engines may not stall, that is increasingly a big risk. I’ve had a lot of interesting discussions about FOMO in the past week or two. There is the obvious driver of FOMO, which is higher prices. Higher prices create the atmosphere where the fear of missing out becomes prevalent. But let’s spend less time on that obvious one and spend a bit of time on things that aren’t discussed quite as much and could be the death knell for some of the biggest FOMO trades (with a focus on crypto). For many assets the “average” investor is already likely to be under water on their investments. Early buyers are still way up because they bought cheap. Investors who came late to the party have born the brunt of the pullback. For many assets, the in-flows accelerate as prices rise, so that when they fall, the “average” investor is now staring at losses. There is a correlation between “weak” hands and losses. Almost by definition, FOMO means that an investor eventually succumbs to their fear of missing out and buys the asset. So, when we get the pullbacks, the people with losses are the ones who were least interested in being involved in the first place. The early adopters told the story, the 2nd wave believed it, and spread it to the 3rd wave, etc. The latest wave of buyers is far less likely to be successful in generating a next wave (what forces someone in once the music may have stopped). Complexity aids FOMO, but also encourages doubt. The more complex something is, the easier it is to overcome fear, because maybe people do know a lot more than you. After all, Bitcoin is always pictured as a cute gold coin, so it must be a coin or currency of some sort? Sorry, for being a bit too sarcastic with that one, but I did start 2021 bullish crypto. It is very difficult to convince someone to buy a generic $1 bill for $5. It is much easier to find a buyer for something that is truly difficult to comprehend. As that doubt sets in, and starts infiltrating the conversations, you have a real risk of “rolling” back the waves. Each successive wave was more reluctant than the prior wave and their performance has been disappointing. The sheer number of coins, NFTs, tokens, etc. were always a bit of a head scratcher when things were going up, but raises some concerns as things are going down. I’ve read some great papers about coins that will do well in the metaverse for example, but during FOMO, this competition added to the opportunity set and now it may make many wonder why there are so many and if they are all useful. El Salvador, Bitcoin Bonds, and Bitcoin City. This may work in the end, but if I was good at GIFS, I’d have a good “how it started” and “how it is going” GIF. This could have been inspirational (and it may yet be), but it may also further detract from the “use” case, which is the way I’m leaning at the moment. Volatility is a requirement of FOMO. This may sound a bit weird, but volatility is required to create FOMO. If something can jump 10% in a day, then you better buy it today because it might be too expensive tomorrow. In a world where I’ve seen the term “non-permanent losses” used to describe what pullbacks do to your holdings, you need that hope of a huge swing. In stocks, TQQQ, a triple leveraged Nasdaq 100 play, is all the rage, and in London, a 5x version was launched (along with 3x versions of various ARK funds). If prices merely stabilize, FOMO will decrease. Gambling is the most fun when you get instant gratification. Heck, maybe even instant results, as gamblers keep coming back. If the market is heavily skewed by “gamblers”, let’s call them people who are heavily leveraged, enjoy the weekly option trading game, etc., then a decrease in volatility (especially for the weekly options players) immediately impacts their participation. While a bit of a non-sequitur, I have been thinking a lot about David Tepper’s interview on CNBC from September 2010. It is quite famous as he used a colloquialism to describe his positioning which turned out to be spot on. What most people forget, is at the end of that interview, he is asked by Kernen if he has any questions. While it seems to have been edited out of the clips I can find, I will do my best to paraphrase what happened next. Tepper asked Kernen about what drives their business (the business of financial media). Kernen swept his arm, broadly indicating the set and said that even with the fancy new studio and all the new graphics, whether markets went up or whether they went down, none of it mattered, because what mattered was volatility. Why do people tune in en masse? Because there is volatility and I think that fits the narrative that FOMO and volatility go hand in hand. Do Diamond Hand, HODLers Ever Run Out of Money? Buy the dip. Buy the dip. How much money do people have if they never sell? The diamond hands/HODLer seems to apply more to crypto than to stocks, though I think you could easily argue that it has filtered into the meme stocks and maybe some specific areas (think back to BOGO). There have been record inflows into stocks this year. How much more money is available? How much leverage is being employed? That really scares me as leverage is the biggest step towards forced selling. Bottom Line On the equity side of things, I’m leaning heavily towards: Companies and cash flows that are relatively easy to understand Valuations that are compelling on “traditional” metrics (probably a convoluted way of saying value). Dividend payers The plumbing. Anything that makes the economy work. Logistics. Companies that benefit from building factories and infrastructure domestically. Real estate probably falls into this category. Mexico, then Latin America, and Canada. As supply chains shift, the “repatriation” will be to those that we are closer to, both in terms of proximity and in terms of political ideology. Cyclicals. On the fixed income side of things: I’d like to bet on slightly higher long-end yields and steeper curves, but the Fed seems to be intent on saying things that the market is interpreting as policy mistakes. Credit is fine. When you look at what I like in equities, that encompasses the vast majority of the credit market, especially high yield, from a sector standpoint. Own credit, including high yield and leveraged loans. Delve into structured products. While TINA might be fading in equities, I think it will still exist in credit and will be where to pick up incremental yield and is worth the risk. Digging into structured products will be key. While reaction to Omicron will drive the direction at the start of the week, I think quality will overwhelm FOMO in the coming weeks. Tyler Durden Sun, 12/19/2021 - 18:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 19th, 2021

"Santa Rally Is Finally Here": Futures Hit All Time High Day After Powell Goes Full Jean-Claude Trichet

"Santa Rally Is Finally Here": Futures Hit All Time High Day After Powell Goes Full Jean-Claude Trichet One day before what everyone knew would be a hawkish pivot by the Fed, the mood was dour with tech names tumbling and futures hanging one for dear life. One day after, Jerome Powell confirmed he would go full Jean-Claude Trichet as the Fed would not only turbo-taper into a sharply slowing economy, ending its QE program by March but then proceed with hiking rates as many as 3 times in 2022 (more than the 2 hike consensus), with the BOE shocking markets moments ago with a surprise rate hike and even the ECB trimming its turbo QE, and futures are.... at all time highs. That's right - eminis are higher by 140 points in 24 hours because the Fed was more hawkish than consensus expected.  At 8:00 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 215 points, or 0.61%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 27.25 points, or 0.57%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 100 points, or 0.61%. Treasury yields jumped alongside European bonds after the BOE became the first major central bank to raise rates since the pandemic, while the dollar fell and the pound jumped. The Euro also hit session highs after the ECB seemed to turn ever so slightly more hawkish as its monthly QE is set to shrink in the coming year. "The market likes facts it can digest. With the uncertainty now gone, it finds relief,” said Frederik Hildner, a portfolio manager at Salm-Salm & Partner. Gradual rising rates “provides more firepower for the next downturn, as it displays the ability normalize monetary policy.” On Wednesday, Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy no longer needed increasing amounts of policy support as annual inflation has been running at more than double the central bank's target in recent months, while the economy nears full employment. Recent readings on surging producer and consumer prices as well as the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus have fueled anxiety as the benchmark S&P 500 inches closer to a record high. "Is the Santa Rally finally here? Markets certainly seem to have a spring in their step... the prospect of three interest rate hikes in 2022 would suggest the central bank has a clear plan to not let inflation get out of control," Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell wrote in a client note. "Equally, it isn't being too aggressive to trip up the economy. This sense of balance is exactly what investors want, and an upbeat tone from the Fed certainly seems to have rubbed off on markets" Bell said, clearly goalseeking his narrative to the market's response as just 24 hours later he would be saying just the opposite when futures were tanking of hawkish Fed fears. Big tech stocks and banks led gains in premarket trading. Shares in Tesla, Microsoft, Meta and Amazon.com rose between 0.7% and 2.4%, with the lift pushing Apple shares nearer to an historic market value of $3 trillion. Bank stocks including JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup all gained between 0.7% and 0.8%. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers today: Apple (APPL) and other big U.S. tech stocks rise after the Federal Reserve said that it would speed up its taper, joining in with a broader relief rally across risk assets. Apple shares are up 0.6%, with the stock drawing nearer to an historic market capitalization of $3 trillion. Also Thursday, Goldman Sachs said lead times for Apple’s iPhone have declined in the latest week. Assertio (ASRT US) shares rise 4% after the company announced the $44 million acquisition of the Otrexup device from Antares Pharma. Blue Bird (BLBD US) dropped 6% after the school bus-maker provided a weaker-than-expected sales outlook. The company also offered $75m shares at $16/share in a private placement. Danimer Scientific (DNMR) falls 10% after announcing that it plans to offer $175 million of convertible senior notes. Delta Air Lines (DAL) is up 2% after saying it expects to report a profit for the fourth quarter, citing a strong demand for travel over the winter holiday period and a decline in jet fuel prices. Other airline stocks are also higher. DocuSign (DOCU) falls 2% as Morgan Stanley issued a downgrade, saying third-quarter results changed the firm’s view regarding the durability of growth through tough post-pandemic comparables. Freyr Battery (FREY) gains 14% after executing its inaugural offtake agreement for at least 31 GWh of low-carbon battery cells. IronNet (IRNT US) slumps 25% after the cybersecurity company’s results fell short of expectations, prompting a Street-low target from Jefferies. Lennar Corp. (LEN US) declined 6% after it reported a forecast for purchase contracts that was weaker than expected. Plug Power (PLUG) gains 5% after signing an agreement with Korean electric-vehicle manufacturer Edison Motors to develop an electric city bus powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Syndax Pharmaceuticals (SNDX) falls 8% after pricing 3.2 million shares at $17.50 each. Tesla (TSLA) is up 2%, rising with other electric vehicle stocks amid a broader gain in technology stocks and U.S. futures on hopes that the Federal Reserve’s policy tightening will fight high inflation without hampering economic growth. Wayfair (W) falls 2% after BofA downgraded the stock to underperform, citing weak near-term data and difficult comparisons through the first quarter of 2022 for the online furniture retailer. European equities rally with Euro Stoxx 50 up as much as 2.1% before drifting off best levels. The U.K.’s exporter-heavy FTSE 100 Index pared some gains after the BOE decision, while European dipped modestly after the European Central Bank’s meeting.  Miners, tech and autos are the best performers, utilities and media names lag. Equities have whipsawed in recent weeks as investors attempted to price in the prospect of rate hikes, while assessing risks from the spread of the omicron variant. The market’s early response to the Fed signals some relief arising from policy clarity, and optimism that the rebound from pandemic lows can weather the pivot away from ultra-loose monetary settings. “The market is breathing a sigh of relief that the FOMC meeting suggested that it is taking inflation risks in the United States more seriously,” Ann-Katrin Petersen, an investment strategist at Allianz Global Investors, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “The question really will be whether the Fed will dare to do even more in order to taper the inflation risk.” Asian stocks rose, halting a four-day slide, as confidence in Federal Reserve policy allowed investors to take on riskier assets. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed as much as 0.8%, buoyed by energy and technology shares. Japan was Asia’s top performer, aided by a weaker yen. Hong Kong and China stocks eked out gains amid ongoing concern over U.S. sanctions. Australian equities declined for a third day. Asia’s benchmark advanced for the first time this week on hopes the Fed will effectively combat surging prices without choking off economic growth. The U.S. central bank said it will double the pace of its asset tapering program to $30 billion a month and projected three interest-rate increases in 2022. In the run-up to the Fed’s decision, Asia’s equity gauge slumped almost 2% over the past four days, keeping it below the 50-day moving average.    The short-term boost to stock market sentiment is from Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s comments about wage inflation not being the main issue for now, and expectations that there’ll be full employment next year, said Ilya Spivak, head of Greater Asia at DailyFX. However, there’s a “meaningful risk” that the Fed’s latest policy stance will trigger liquidation as Asia stock portfolios are de-risked, Spivak said. Japan’s stocks rose for a second day after the yen weakened and U.S. stocks rallied amid speculation the Federal Reserve will combat surging prices without choking off economic growth. The Topix index climbed 1.5% to close at 2,013.08 in Tokyo, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 2.1% to 29,066.32. Keyence Corp. contributed the most to the Topix’s gain, increasing 2.5%. Out of 2,181 shares in the index, 1,674 rose and 421 fell, while 86 were unchanged. “It wouldn’t be strange to see the discount on Japanese equities narrowing following the FOMC meeting results, with market interest centered around electronics, machinery, automakers and marine transportation stocks,” said Takashi Ito, an equity market strategist at Nomura Securities. Electronics firms and automakers helped lift the Topix as the yen headed for a four-day slump against the dollar, with the currency falling 0.1% to 114.19 Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.4% to close at 7,295.70, extending its losing streak to a third day.  CSL was the worst performer after the benchmark’s second-biggest company by weighting completed a placement to fund its Vifor acquisition. Mesoblast was the top performer after saying it plans to conduct an additional U.S. Phase 3 trial of rexlemestrocel-L in patients with chronic low back pain.  Investors also digested November jobs data. Australian employment soared last month, smashing expectations and pushing the jobless rate lower as virus restrictions eased on the east coast. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.7% to 12,777.54 In rates, cash USTs bull steepened, bolstered by a large curve steepener that blocked in early London. Bunds are soft at the back end, peripherals slightly wider ahead of today’s ECB meeting. Gilts bear steepen slightly, white pack sonia futures are lower by 2-3.5 ticks. In FX, the dollar slipped for a second day and oil rose; cable snapped to best levels of the week after the BOE unexpectedly hiked rates.  The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell for a second day as the greenback weakened against all its Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen; Tresury yields fell, led by the belly of the curve. Commodity currencies were the best G-10 performers, led by the krone, which reversed an earlier loss after Norway’s central bank raised its interest rate for the second time this year and flagged another increase in March as officials acted to cool the rebounding economy despite renewed coronavirus concerns. The Australian and New Zealand dollars reversed earlier losses amid upbeat stock markets; the Aussie earlier weakened as RBA Governor Lowe hinted at the prospect of no rate hikes next year. The yen fell as the Federal Reserve’s decision reaffirmed yield differentials ahead of the Bank of Japan’s outcome on Friday. Bonds rose after a solid auction. Elsewhere in FX, NOK outperforms in G-10 after Norges Bank rate action, other commodity currencies are similarly well bid. In commodities, Crude futures hold a narrow range around best levels of the session. WTI is up 1.1% near $71.70, Brent near $74.70. Spot gold grinds higher, adding ~$9 near $1,786/oz. LME copper outperforms in a well-bid base metals complex To the day ahead now, and the main highlights will be the aforementioned policy decisions from the ECB and the BoE. On the data side, we’ll also get the flash PMIs for December from around the world, the Euro Area trade balance for October, and in the US there’s November data on industrial production, housing starts and building permits, as well as the weekly initial jobless claims. Finally, EU leaders will be meeting for a summit in Brussels. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.5% to 4,734.25 STOXX Europe 600 up 1.2% to 476.39 MXAP up 0.8% to 193.11 MXAPJ up 0.5% to 623.76 Nikkei up 2.1% to 29,066.32 Topix up 1.5% to 2,013.08 Hang Seng Index up 0.2% to 23,475.50 Shanghai Composite up 0.8% to 3,675.02 Sensex up 0.1% to 57,851.57 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.4% to 7,295.66 Kospi up 0.6% to 3,006.41 Brent Futures up 1.0% to $74.59/bbl Gold spot up 0.5% to $1,786.03 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.36% to 96.16 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.36% Euro up 0.2% to $1.1316 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The greenback is set for its biggest annual gain in six years and its rally appears to be far from over, market participants say. The prime mover: a hawkish Federal Reserve that’s drawn a roadmap of interest-rate increases over the next three years, while other central banks look much more reticent to withdraw stimulus The ECB is poised to unveil a gradual withdrawal from extraordinary pandemic stimulus in the face of soaring inflation whose path is further clouded by the omicron coronavirus variant The “phenomenal pace” at which the new Covid-19 omicron strain is spreading across the U.K. will trigger a surge in hospital admissions over the holiday period, according to Boris Johnson’s top medical adviser The Swiss National Bank kept both the deposit and the policy rate at -0.75%, as widely predicted by economists. With the global economic recovery on shaky footing due to the omicron variant, President Thomas Jordan and fellow policy makers also reiterated their pledge to supplement subzero rates with currency interventions as needed France will impose tougher rules on people traveling from the U.K., including a ban on non-essential trips and a requirement to self-isolate, as it tries to slow the spread of the omicron variant IHS Markit said its index tracking output across the U.K. economy fell to 53.2 this month from 57.6 in November, reflecting weaker-than-expected growth in service industries including hotels, restaurants and travel-related businesses. Business-to-business services stalled European power prices soared to records after Electricite de France SA said that two nuclear reactors will stop unexpectedly and two will have prolonged halts -- just as the continent heads for a cold snap with already depleted gas inventories Hungary’s central bank increased the effective base interest rate for the fifth time in as many weeks to tackle the fastest inflation since 2007 and shore up the battered forint A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded mixed as the region digested the FOMC meeting. The ASX 200 (-0.4%) was negative with heavy losses in the healthcare sector and as COVID infections remained rampant. There were also notable comments from RBA Governor Lowe that the board discussed tapering bond purchases in February and ending it in May or could even end purchases in February if economic progress is better than expected, although it is also open to reviewing bond buying again in May if the data disappoints. The Nikkei 225 (+2.1%) outperformed and reclaimed the 29k level after the Lower House recently passed the record extra budget stimulus and with the latest trade data showing double-digit percentage surges in Imports and Exports, despite the latter slightly missing on expectations. The Hang Seng (+0.2%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.8%) were varied with Hong Kong pressured by losses in the big tech names amid ongoing frictions between the world’s two largest economies and as US lawmakers proposed a bill to allow the US oversight of China audits, although the mainland was kept afloat amid further speculation of a potential LPR cut this month, as well as reports that China will boost financial support for small businesses and offer more longer-term loans to manufacturers. Finally, 10yr JGBs were indecisive despite the constructive mood in Tokyo and with price action stuck near the 152.00 focal point, while demand was also sidelined amid mixed results at the 20yr JGB auction and as the BoJ kickstarts its two-day meeting. Top Asian News Indonesia Reports First Omicron Case in Jakarta Facility Asia Stocks Snap Four-Day Drop as Traders Take on Risk After Fed Shimao Group Shares Set for Best Day in Month Money Manager Vanishes With $313 Million From China Builder Equities in Europe have taken their cue from the post-FOMC rally seen across Wall Street (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.6%; Stoxx 600 +1.1%) following somewhat mixed APAC trade. As a reminder, markets saw relief with one of the major risk events out of the way, and with Chair Powell refraining from throwing hawkish curveballs. That being said, the forecast does see three rate hikes next year, whilst the Fed Board next year will also be more hawkish – at least within the rotating voters - with George, Mester and Bullard poised to vote from 2022. Nonetheless, US equity future continues grinding higher with all contracts in the green and the RTY (+1.3%) outperforming vs the NQ (+0.7%), ES (+0.6%), and YM (+0.5%). Bourses in Europe also experience broad-based gains with no real outliers, although the upside momentum somewhat waned amid some softer-than-expected PMI metrics ahead of ECB. Sectors in Europe paint a clear pro-cyclical bias. Tech outperforms following a similar sectorial performance seen on Wall Street. Basic Resources and Oil & Gas follow a close second, with Autos and Travel & Leisure also among the biggest gainers. The downside sees Personal & Household Goods, Telecoms and Food & Beverages. Healthcare meanwhile fares better than its defensive peers as Novartis (+4%) is bolstered after commencing a new USD 15bln buyback, highlighting confidence in growth and pipeline. On the flip side, EDF (-12%) shares have slipped after it narrowed FY EBITDA forecasts and highlighted some faults with some nuclear reactors amid corrosion. Top European News Britain’s Covid Resurgence Cuts Growth to Slowest Since Lockdown SNB Says Franc Is Highly Valued as Omicron Clouds Outlook Norway Delivers Rate Hike That Omicron Had Threatened to Derail Erdogan Approves Third Capital Boost for State Banks Since 2019 In FX, not much bang for the Buck fits the bill accurately as it is panning out in the FOMC aftermath even though market expectations were matched and arguably exceeded in terms of dot plots showing three hikes in 2022 vs two anticipated by most and only one previously, while the unwinding of asset purchases will occur in double quick time to end in March next year instead of June. However, there appears to be enough in the overall statement, SEP and Fed chair Powell’s post-meeting press conference to offset the initial knee-jerk spike in the Dollar and index that lifted the latter very close to its current y-t-d peak at 96.914 vs 96.938 from November 24. Indeed, the terminal rate was maintained at 2.5%, no decision has been taken about whether to take a break after tapering before tightening, and the recovery in labour market participation has been disappointing to the point that it will now take longer to return to higher levels. In response, or on further reflection, the DXY has recoiled to 96.141 and through the 21 DMA that comes in at 96.238 today. NZD/AUD/CAD/GBP/EUR/CHF - All on the rebound vs their US counterpart, with the Kiwi back on the 0.6800 handle and also encouraged by NZ GDP contracting less than feared in Q3, while the Aussie is hovering around 0.7200 in wake of a stellar jobs report only partly tempered by dovish remarks from RBA Governor Lowe who is still not in the 2022 hike camp and non-committal about ending QE next February or extending until May. Elsewhere, the Loonie has clawed back a chunk of its losses amidst recovering crude prices to regain 1.2800+ status ahead of Canadian wholesale trade that is buried between a raft of US data and survey releases, Sterling is flirting with 1.3300 in advance of the BoE that is likely to hold fire irrespective of significantly hotter than forecast UK inflation, the Euro is pivoting 1.1300 pre-ECB that is eyed for details of life after the PEPP and the Franc is somewhat mixed post-SNB that maintained rates and a highly valued assessment of the Chf with readiness to intervene as required. Note, Usd/Chf is meandering from 0.9256 to 0.9221 vs Eur/Chf more elevated within a 1.0455-30 band. JPY - The Yen is underperforming on the eve of the BoJ and looking technically weak to compound its yield and rate disadvantage after Usd/Jpy closed above a key chart level on Wednesday (at 114.03). As such, Fib resistance is now exposed at 114.38 vs the circa 114.25 high, so far, while decent option expiry interest may be influential one way or the other into the NY cut given around 1.3 bn at the 114.25 strike, 1.7 bn at 114.30 and 1.2 bn or so at 114.50. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures are taking advantage of the risk appetite coupled with the softer Buck. WTI Jan trades on either side of USD 71.50/bbl (vs low USD 71.39/bbl) while Brent Feb sees itself around USD 74.50/bbl (vs low USD 74.28/bbl). Complex-specific news has again been on the quiet end, with prices working off the macro impulses for the time being, and with volumes also light heading into Christmas trade. Elsewhere spot gold and silver ebb higher – in tandem with the Dollar, with the former eyeing a group of DMAs to the upside including the 100 (1,788/oz), 21 (1,789/oz) 200 (1,794/oz) and 50 (1,796/oz). Turning to base metals, LME copper has been catapulted higher amid the risk and weaker Dollar, with prices re-testing USD 9,500/t to the upside. Meanwhile, a Chinese government consultancy has said that China's steel consumption will dip 0.7% on an annual basis in 2022 amid policies for the real estate market and uncertainties linked to COVID-19 curb demand. US event calendar 8:30am: Dec. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 200,000, prior 184,000; Continuing Claims, est. 1.94m, prior 1.99m 8:30am: Nov. Housing Starts MoM, est. 3.1%, prior -0.7% 8:30am: Nov. Housing Starts, est. 1.57m, prior 1.52m 8:30am: Nov. Building Permits MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 4.0%, revised 4.2% 8:30am: Nov. Building Permits, est. 1.66m, prior 1.65m, revised 1.65m 8:30am: Dec. Philadelphia Fed Business Outl, est. 29.6, prior 39.0 9:15am: Nov. Manufacturing (SIC) Production, est. 0.7%, prior 1.2%; Industrial Production MoM, est. 0.6%, prior 1.6% 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Manufacturing PMI, est. 58.5, prior 58.3 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Services PMI, est. 58.8, prior 58.0 DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Yesterday’s biggest story was obviously the Fed. In line with our US economists call (their full recap here), the FOMC doubled the pace of taper to $30bn a month, which would bring an end to QE in mid-March. The new dot plot showed three rate hikes in 2022, up from the Committee being split over one hike in September. Farther out, the median dot had 3 additional hikes in 2023 and 2 hikes in 2024, bringing fed funds just below their estimate of the longer-term rate. Notably, all 18 Committee members have liftoff occurring next year, and 10 have 3 hikes penciled in, suggesting consensus behind the recent hawkish turn was strong. Short-end market pricing increased in line and now has around 2.9 hikes priced for 2022. The first hike is fully priced for the June meeting, but notably, meetings as early as March are priced as live, more on that in a bit. In the statement, the Committee admitted that inflation had exceeded target for some time (dropping ‘transitory’ completely), and that liftoff would be tied to the economy reaching full employment. By the sounds of the press conference, progress toward full employment has proceeded pretty rapidly. Chair Powell noted that while labour force participation progress has been disappointing, almost every other measure of labour market strength shows a very strong labour market, and could create upside risks to inflation should wage growth start to increase beyond productivity. It is within that context that he framed the decision to taper faster, it will leave the Fed in a position to react as needed, providing optionality. In that vein, he stressed a few times that the lag between the end of taper and liftoff need not be as long as it was in the last cycle, and that the Fed will raise rates after taper is done whenever needed, hence meetings as early as March being live. Notably on Omicron, the Chair, like the rest of us, recognises we don’t know much about the variant yet, but seemed optimistic about the economy’s ability to withstand subsequent Covid shocks, regardless of Omicron’s specifics. While Covid shocks can tighten supply chains, discourage labour participation, and reduce demand, as more people get vaccinated those impacts should dwindle over time, so his argument went. Hammering the point home, he sounded confident that the economy can handle whatever Omicron brings without any additional QE, justifying the accelerated taper path despite Covid risks. The hawkish turn had been well forecast through Fed speakers since the last meeting, not least of which the Chair himself during Congressional testimony, which served to dull the market impact. Treasury yields were slightly higher, (2yr Tsys +0.6bps and 10yr Tsys +1.5 bps) but were quite docile for an FOMC afternoon. The dollar initially strengthened on the statement release before reversing course and ending the day -0.24% lower. Stocks were the real outperformers, as the S&P 500 rallied through the FOMC events, gaining +1.63%, the best daily performance in two months, while the Nasdaq increased +2.15%. The Russell 2000 matched the S&P, gaining +1.65%. Obviously the market was anticipating the change in policy, but if doubling taper and adding three rate hikes in the next year isn’t enough to tighten financial conditions, what is? The Chair was asked about that in so many words in the press conference, where he responded by noting financial conditions could change on a dime. Indeed, they will have to tighten from historically easy levels if the Fed is to bring inflation back to target through policy. The Fed may be out of the way now, but the central bank excitement continues today as both the ECB and the BoE announce their own policy decisions later on. We’ll start with the ECB, who like the Fed have faced much higher than expected inflation lately, with the November flash estimate coming in at +4.9%, which is the highest since the formation of the single currency. Whilst Omicron has cast a shadow of uncertainty, with Commission President von der Leyen saying yesterday that it was likely to become dominant in Europe by mid-January, our European economics team doesn’t think there has been anything concrete enough to alter the ECB from their course (like the Fed). In our European economists’ preview (link here) they write the ECB appears on track to initiate a transition to a monetary policy stance based more on policy rates and rates guidance and less on liquidity provision. The ECB is set to confirm that PEPP net purchases will end in March, but will cushion the blow by working flexibility into the post-PEPP asset purchase arrangement. They are also set to make the policy framework more flexible to better respond to inflation uncertainties. One thing to keep an eye out for in particular will be the latest inflation projections, with a report from Bloomberg suggesting that they’ll show inflation beneath the 2% target in both 2023 and 2024. So if that’s true, that could offer a route to arguing against a tightening of monetary policy for the time being, since the ECB’s forward guidance has been that it won’t raise rates until it sees inflation at the target “durably for the rest of the projection horizon”. Today’s other big decision comes from the BoE, where our UK economist is expecting that there’ll be a 15bps increase in Bank Rate, taking it up to 0.25% although they suggest it’s a very close call. See here for the rationale. Ahead of that decision later on, we received a very strong UK inflation print for November, with CPI rising to +5.1% (vs. +4.8% expected), up from +4.2% in October and the fastest pace in a decade. That’s running ahead of the BoE’s own staff forecasts in the November Monetary Policy Report, which had seen inflation at just +4.5% that month, so six-tenths beneath the realised figure. We’ll get their decision at 12:00 London time, 45 minutes ahead of the ECB’s. In terms of the latest on the Omicron variant, there are continued signs of concern in South Africa, with cases coming in at a record 26,976 yesterday, whilst the number in hospital at 7,339 is up +73% compared to a week ago. Meanwhile the UK recorded their highest number of cases since the pandemic began, at 78,610. England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, said that a lot of Covid records would be broken in the coming weeks, and also that a majority of cases in London were now from the Omicron variant. Separately, the French government is set to hold a meeting tomorrow on Covid measures, and EU leaders will be discussing the pandemic at their summit today. When it comes to Omicron’s economic impact, we could see some light shed on that today as the December flash PMIs are released from around the world. Overnight we’ve already had the numbers out of Australia and Japan where hints of a slowdown are apparent. Japan's Manufacturing PMI came out at 54.2 (54.5 previous) and the Composite at 51.8 (53.3 previous) while Australia’s Manufacturing and Composite came in at 57.4 and 54.9 respectively (59.2 and 55.7 previous). Overnight in Asia stocks are trading mostly higher led by the Nikkei (+1.78%) followed by the Shanghai Composite (+0.28%), and KOSPI (+0.22%). However the CSI (-0.07%) and Hang Seng (-0.81%) are losing ground on concerns of US sanctions on Chinese tech companies. In Australia, the November employment report registered a strong beat by adding 366.1k jobs against 200k consensus. This is being reflected in a +12.75 bps surge in Australia's 3y bond. Elsewhere, in India wholesale inflation for November rose +14.2% year on year, levels last seen in 2000 against a consensus of +11.98% on the back of higher food and input prices. DM futures are indicating a positive start to markets today with S&P 500 (+0.19%) and DAX (+1.04%) contracts both higher as we type. Ahead of the Fed, European markets had put in a fairly steady performance yesterday, with the STOXX 600 up +0.26%. That brought an end to a run of 5 successive declines, with technology stocks in particular seeing an outperformance. Sovereign bond markets were also subdued ahead of the ECB and BoE meetings later, with yields on 10yr bunds (+0.9bps), OATs (+0.5bps) and gilts (+1.2bps) only seeing modest moves higher. In DC, despite optimistic sounding talks earlier in the week, the latest yesterday was President Biden and Senator Manchin remained far apart on the administration’s build back better bill, imperiling its chances of passing before Christmas. Elsewhere, reports suggested the President would have more nominations for the remaining Fed Board vacancies this week. Looking at yesterday’s other data, US retail sales underwhelmed in November with growth of just +0.3% (vs. +0.8% expected), and measure excluding gas and motor vehicles was also up just +0.2% (vs. +0.8% expected). Also the NAHB’s housing market index for December moved up to a 10-month high of 84, in line with expectations. To the day ahead now, and the main highlights will be the aforementioned policy decisions from the ECB and the BoE. On the data side, we’ll also get the flash PMIs for December from around the world, the Euro Area trade balance for October, and in the US there’s November data on industrial production, housing starts and building permits, as well as the weekly initial jobless claims. Finally, EU leaders will be meeting for a summit in Brussels. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/16/2021 - 08:29.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 16th, 2021

Young People Turn To Collectivism Because Of These Psychological Disparities

Young People Turn To Collectivism Because Of These Psychological Disparities Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, Are Americans changing with the times, are the times changing with Americans, or, has nothing really changed at all in the past century? Before we dive into this discussion it’s important to understand one thing above all else – There is nothing new under the sun. Every “new” political movement or cultural upheaval has happened a thousand times or more in the past. Every “new” form of governance is just a rehashed version of a system that came before it. Every “new” economic structure is one of a handful of preexisting and ever repeating trade methodologies. Every “new” revolution and rebellion is a fight for the same basic goals against the same persistent foes that have always existed since the dawn of civilization. All of human history can be condensed down to a few fundamental and irreconcilable differences, desires, values and ambitions. This cycle of events is a kind of historical furnace where people and nations are forged. Most go through life without any inkling of the whirlwind; they think the things happening to them are unique and unprecedented. Maybe if human beings lived longer lives they would realize how common such conflicts are and view the repetition with less panic. The so called “disenfranchised” feel overwhelmed by the tides and completely devoid of any influence over the future. Then there are those that have the ability to see the story unfold. There are those that try to control it and use it to their advantage. There are those that are trying desperately to escape it, even at the cost of reason and sanity. And, there are those that take truly individual action and make history rather than simply being caught up in it. None of us really knows which path we will choose until we are faced with a defining moment, and none of us knows when that moment will arrive. I know it sounds crazy, but living in interesting times is not a curse, it is a blessing. Of course, not everyone feels this way… Collectivism Targets The Young For A Reason As the mainstream media is fond of reminding us, there is a large percentage of teens and young adults today that are turning to collectivist systems like socialism to find protection from what they see as a cruel and unfair era that is inhospitable to their prosperity and emotional security. They feel that the generations that came before them rendered all the fat and siphoned all the wealth this country has to give and now there is nothing left for them. In some cases they are correct, in other cases they have been cleverly misled. That’s right folks, it’s a return to that epic battle between the inexperienced and naive younglings who will one day inherit the Earth, and the selfish and obstinate “boomers” that supposedly ruined it for them. A battle not just of classes but of generations; nothing new under the sun, same as it ever was. According to mainstream polling over the past few years there has been an aggressive shift in younger people away from traditional American concepts like free markets (What leftists call “capitalism”) and individualism towards the sweet sugary smell of candy coated socialism. The strange thing is that many millennials and Gen Z kids mistrust government more than any generation that has come before them in recent memory. Yet, more than half of them actually think that socialism (big government) is a “rebellion” against corrupt and intrusive government influence. Yeah, how did they ever come to that conclusion? It’s bizarre. There are a lot of very insightful theories on why this is happening. Some people argue that public schools and colleges have become subversively communist and ideological, and that recent generations have been exposed to increasing levels of indoctrination. It’s true, the evidence is undeniable that this is happening and the propaganda coming from public schools is so radioactive it’s giving the country cancer. However, what this theory overlooks is that younger people are targeted with collectivist cultism for a reason – They are already highly susceptible to the narrative. Certain people and groups are more psychologically inclined to adopt particular values and embrace particular solutions. Young people tend to lean more towards the collectivist mentality, and the elitists behind the curtain encourage and exploit this existing social trait. They don’t create these divisions out of thin air, the divisions already exist in society and they take advantage. That’s the big secret that very few analysts want to acknowledge. Who Is To Blame? To be fair, older generations have not helped the situation much. It would have been better if the fight against globalism, collectivism, etc. had been fought and ended decades ago. There have been a lot of false starts. Economically, older Americans have done very little to stop government spending and the Federal Reserve’s money printing bonanza and now we are witnessing a stagflationary crisis which young people are ill equipped to survive. There are many comforts that Baby Boomers took for granted, such as greater buying power of the dollar and easier home ownership, and these are comforts that newer generations will probably not experience. But then again, blaming the apathy of “boomers” as the sole culprits behind the economic decline of the US is a deflection on the part of young socialists. Let’s be realistic; the vast majority of stimulus creation was accomplished by the Fed between 2008 and today. Millennials are more than old enough to take part of the responsibility. The central bank and the government conjured more national debt and inflationary stimulus in the past decade than all the previous 235 years of our country’s existence combined. Most younger Americans stood by and watched this happen right along with the baby boomers. Also, accusing boomers of dereliction of duty for not leaping into revolution against the powers-that-be presumes that this was ever their job. It’s a lot like blaming the parents or grandparents of the Founding Fathers for not breaking from England sooner. Maybe there just wasn’t enough momentum yet? Maybe the task was left to the founders era for a reason. Maybe these things are part of a cycle (as mentioned above) and maybe an accounting of our current predicament was not possible until today? Like I said, we don’t get to choose the time in which we live, and moments where tyranny or rebellion are decided are fleeting in history. Sorry, kids, but someone has to come of age during these moments of malaise and that lot falls to you. Unfortunately, some of you will now be standing in support of the corrupt system instead of fighting against it and we will be finding ourselves at cross-purposes. The Exploitable Psychological Weaknesses Of Youth The question again is, why are we on opposite sides? Why are around two-thirds of younger people putting their faith in big government when they are the generation that’s supposed to be the most suspicious of government? What is it with the young and socialism and collectivism? To be sure, collectivist movements like to present themselves as “revolutionary” and fighting for the “underdogs.” And usually they are marginal in their social presence and seem to be grassroots in origin when they begin. The key to knowing if a movement is real or if it is a controlled farce is to see who is putting their money behind it. It is not surprising to most conservatives that the political left enjoys endless cash flow from globalist institutions and corporate backers. After all, we’re the people these kids are being encouraged to destroy because we are in actual opposition to the system (save a handful of GOP elites that are conservative in rhetoric only). Social justice groups are finding enthusiastic allies among the mega-rich, the very people the left claims they are fighting to dethrone. BLM and other leftist organizations have received hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, George Soros and his Open Society Foundation, etc. This is not conspiracy “theory”, this is openly admitted reality. Colleges in particular have long been a grooming ground for the elites, and it’s important to remember that many leftists are coaxed and manipulated by gatekeepers into the role of angry activists. That doesn’t mean they bear no responsibility for their actions. This leads us to the psychology of today’s younger generation and why they are so often targeted for exploitation by collectivists. The Vulnerable Psychology Of The Young Collectivist movements associate with empathetic causes and many young people draw political conclusions based on emotion and empathy. It makes sense; most younger Americans value empathy and charity above all else because they have only been on this Earth for a short period of time. They have thrived for most of their brief existences because of charity and support from other people (like their parents). They move into the adult world wondering why collective support and centralized charity are not there waiting for them. It’s the only system of survival they have ever known, and now the world demands that they stand on their own two feet and make their way alone. The go to solution is usually to go to college and take on debt. For the past 10-15 years college for most people has become a way to escape the real world for a few years more. A large number of them take on useless majors and pay tens of thousands of dollars for degrees that have no value to any employer. When college ends the escape plan ends and once again reality waits for them, but now they have an average of $30,000 in debt dragging on their necks like a millstone. This is why the number of young people living with their parents into their 20s and 30s has skyrocketed in the past several years to 52%. When mommy and daddy are no longer the primary means of sustainment they search for a proxy, and the government looks like a tempting replacement. This is partially the fault of helicopter parents that have spent the better part of their children’s lives trying to shield them from any responsibility or consequences. They have left swarms of these kids completely unprepared for the harsh lessons of the adult world. The fact of the matter is, childhood ends, and dependency ends, and you will have to be able to function without constant help or you will feel the pain of failure. This is how the world works and how it always will work. Socialism/communism and globalism/collectivism all make promises that under their new system you can remain a child for the rest of your life, forever cared for by government. This is a lie. Collectivist systems do have a habit of making most people equal, in that we are all made equally poor and equally destitute. The Utopian vision of a world without work or worries always has a hidden price tag as well. The sacrifice of personal freedom is the trade and while some don’t see this as a bad thing most of them aren’t old enough yet to understand what they are losing. A problem more specific to Millennials and Gen Z is that they have extraordinarily high expectations but extremely low initiative and ambition. When the top dream job for young people in poll after poll is “YouTuber” or “Influencer”, you know that our society is in trouble. The expectation is that work will always be minimal while money will always be ample and fame will be inevitable. Social media is built on this very narrative, and the number of “followers” a person has on social media is treated as a currency; subscribers and followers are the new measure of individual success, even if that person has accomplished nothing else in their lives. Imagine that you have this mentality sloshing around in your brain and suddenly you are faced with the cold hard reality of the 9 to 5 work-a-day world? You are going to be enraged when you realize how much struggle and discomfort it really takes just to pay the rent and put food in your stomach. Zennials think that older people somehow didn’t have to go through this, but they are misinformed. Nearly ALL OF US struggle in our twenties to get somewhere in life. MOST OF US have lived paycheck to paycheck in our early years. Once you enter adulthood it can take a couple of decades to accumulate any measure of wealth or success, but young people today are utterly impatient with the process and are clamoring for shortcuts. When they realize there are no shortcuts, they feel they have been wronged. There is a realization that comes to a person only through experience and heartache, and it is this: Life is not a violation of our comfort. Life is not something that is “done to us.” Life is unfair for a reason – It is a test of who we are and who we might become. Life is a relentless test. Collectivist gatekeepers will spin fantastic narratives of a future devoid of discomfort and free from responsibility. All you have to do is give up all your freedoms and the reward will be a perpetual childhood. It sounds nice, but it is quite evil in its design. Infantizing a society is the first step to enslaving a society. Being dependent on government means giving total control to government; government becomes the parent, and not all parents love their children. Big government and collectivism are also intoxicating weapons. Much like the “One Ring” in the Lord of The Rings, a lot of people think they can use it for good, but big government power corrupts everyone eventually. There are many people on the political left today that are basking in the dark side of this power. They love the intimidation of the mob, and they love that corporations and politicians are helping them to destroy their enemies. All social justice is built on the notion that the expectation of betterment is a form of bigotry. Seeing merit as a measure of a person’s value is deemed horrific. In a meritocracy these people have no power, but in a world of “equity” where people compete to see who is the most broken and the most oppressed the power goes to the those who can get the most handouts and special treatment. Then, there are people that are simply narcissistic and sociopathic, and these are traits that are highly valued in the social media culture and in collectivist regimes. In the new world there will be two types of people who will be allowed to succeed: The people that prove their victim status and the people that have no conscience. If you don’t have any defining social justice points to help you climb the diversity totem pole then you will be stuck, unless you are willing to do almost any evil to get ahead. And maybe this has always been the goal of the establishment – To get our culture to a place where evil is the most acceptable option. To be clear, there are millions of young Americans that are NOT on board with the collectivist program, but the longer the current dynamic goes on the harder it will be to reverse the damage already done by the system. Something is going to have to change very soon and rather violently. While the young are exploited through their fears of stepping into a world based on merit, collectivist tyranny will only continue to grow. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/10/2021 - 20:20.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 10th, 2021

On The Quasispecies Origins Of SARS-CoV-2"s Enigmatic Furin-Cleavage Site

On The Quasispecies Origins Of SARS-CoV-2's Enigmatic Furin-Cleavage Site Via Harvard2TheBigHouse.Substack.com, A Grin Without a Cat Bottling-Up the Quasispecies Origins of SARS-CoV-2’s Enigmatic Furin-Cleavage Site.  From the co-author of the first peer-reviewed paper examining a laboratory origin for SARS-CoV-2, as well as its addendum, which formally linked the H1N1 Spanish Flu pandemic strain release of 1977 to gain-of-function research. Although it started as a point of obscure technical reference back in early 2020 as our ongoing pandemic was still in the early stages of spreading its now-ubiquitous wings, it’s now nearly two years later and debates are still raging about the origins and relevance of SARS-CoV-2’s notorious furin-cleavage site, or FCS.  This four-base amino-acid insert immediately drew the attention of the Sirotkin & Sirotkin father-and-son team as they were working on their paper covering the possible laboratory-engineered origins of the COVID-19 Pandemic, which was submitted back in April 2020, long before anyone else was discussing any of this with meaningful scientific detail: The genetic signatures in question includes two distinctive features possessed by SARS-CoV-2's spike-protein: the unique sequence in the receptor binding domain (RBD), a region known to be critical for SARS-CoV-2's utilization of human angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE2), which is the cell surface receptor used by both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 for fusion with target cells and subsequent cell entry. The second feature is the presence of a polybasic furin cleavage site, which is also known as a multibasic cleavage site (MBS)—a four amino acid insertion with limited sequence flexibility—within the coronavirus's novel spike-protein, that is not found in SARS-CoV or other lineage B coronaviruses.  This furin cleavage site, which is poly or multibasic by definition since its composed of multiple basic amino acids, is an important virulence feature observed to have been acquired by fusion proteins of avian influenza viruses and Newcastle Disease Virus either grown under experimental conditions or isolated from commercial animal farms—settings that mimic the conditions of serial laboratory passage.  In fact, no influenza virus with a furin cleavage site has ever been found [to originate] in nature, and it is a feature that has been thoroughly investigated in the literature since it appears to allow the influenza viruses that carry it to establish a systemic multiorgan infection using different cell types including nerve cells,  is correlated with high pathogenicity, and also plays a key role in overcoming the species barrier.   More generally, despite the fact that not all serially passed viruses have demonstrated an increase in pathogenicity, the fact remains that every highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, defined by having a furin cleavage site, has either been found on commercial poultry farms that create the pseudo-natural conditions necessary for serial passage, or created in laboratories with gain-of-function serial passage experiments. The first glaring sign that the virological community had something to hide was the fact that all of the studies covering the notorious 2012 gain-of-function experiments with ferrets and influenza referred to this four amino-acid FCS insert as multi-basic instead of poly-basic, like it was in all of the 2020 studies discussing this feature in the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  Granted scientific writing always has a load of jargon, but this really seemed intentional, to try a little syntactical shield to draw attention away from the serial passage gain-of-function experiments down with ferrets back in 2012 by hiding behind the fact that polybasic was somehow different from multibasic.  However there’s still something that seems to get in the way of tying SARS-CoV-2’s FCS directly to serial passage gain-of-function vaccine work, since there doesn’t appear to be any molecular room for SARS-CoV-2 to have gotten its FCS simply during serial passage as an insert, as it apparently occurs with influenza viruses during serial passage. Based on the genetics involved, there doesn’t appear to be any clear genomic pathway for SARS-CoV-2 to have gained it’s four amino-acid FCS insert as influenza strains presumably did back in 2012, allowing our novel coronavirus to molecularly spread its wings and achieve airborne transmission. With influenza the insertion matches up based on what we know about assumed genomic behavior, with our novel coronavirus that isn’t the case. So which is it, does the FCS lead us conclusively to a laboratory origin or not?  “You may have noticed, I’m not all there myself.” - The Cheshire Cat In 2012 during the serial passage experiments with ferrets and influenza viruses, two different teams carried out similar experiments with the H5N1 strain of influenza, which was and still is proliferating all across large commercial poultry farms, and back then was beginning to draw concern that it might gain the ability to jump all the way into human populations - isolated cases had emerged in farm workers in close contact with poultry all across the globe in the years leading up to these gain-of-function experiments, but there way no recorded human-to-human transmission yet.  It’s probably worth a brief moment to consider that every major industrial poultry farm on earth is stuffed to the wattles with potential viral hosts which are unable to self-segregate when they get sick like they are in wild populations, and so despite the fact that modern poultry farms have vaccination programs with 100% genomic coverage, 100% compliance, and 100% surveillance  - a perfect experimental situation with far more controllability that human societies - the emergence highly-pathogenic influenza strains that easily cull half the flock in a matter of days and sometimes result in 100% mortality are a constant threat.  Turns out you can’t vaccinate your way out of highly-transmissible RNA viruses in crowded commercial settings, but it also turns out that humans have a little issue trying to play God, and as so here we are.  So the H5N1 strain being used for serial passage experiments back in 2012 was a close cousin to the H1N1 1918 pandemic strain: Instead of spike-proteins like coronaviruses, the part of an influenza virus that is able to access host receptor-cells consists of a hemagglutinin protein right next to a neuraminidase protein, both of which come in different assortments, and so are referred to together as HxNy - with numbers from 1 to 18 possible to represent the different hemagglutinin proteins, and 1 to 11 indicating which neuraminidase protein is present. So as a unit, the HxNx surface-protein complex in influenza viruses fills an analogous role - penetrating and successfully infecting host cells - as the spike-protein does for coronaviruses, where SARS-CoV-2 has its FCS.  In the first experiment with H5N1, a Japanese team lead by Dr. Yoshiro Kawaoka wanted to try and measure how likely this strain was to move past only jumping from poultry to people and actually establish human-to-human transmission, by taking the gene for the H5 protein from H5N1, and splicing it onto a virus with the seven other genes - not including this H5 hemagglutinin gene - from the pandemic H1N1 strain, and then seeing what happened when the strains that emerged from this process got a chance to infect a bunch of lab ferrets sharing air in the same room but isolated in separate cages.  A Dutch team lead by Dr. Ron Fouchier conducted a similar study, in this one they also took this H5N1 influenza strain, but instead of making a chimeric Frankenvirus with genes from H1N1, alternatively but to a similar effect: they jacked it full of mutagens to accelerate the evolutionary process, and then also let it run amok through a whole bunch of lab ferrets in a similar set-up - watching to see which strains were eventually able to establish airborne transmission among the critters.  And in both cases it was only strains with our notorious FCS, albeit described without that exact term and instead using multibasic inserts and other language, which were able to reliably establish airborne transmission between laboratory ferrets, telling both teams of scientists it was this furin-cleavage site which was especially dangerous and might open the door to another human influenza pandemic if a virus with it was able to jump completely off of poultry farms and into human populations.  However there’s been a fundamental misunderstanding going on, one that rests at the very base of scientific exploration, that’s caused everyone talking about the FCS to argue that it’s an insert that appeared within the virus during these serial passages between ferrets, and was an evolutionary adaptation which allowed for airborne transmission to occur.  Because if you look carefully, that’s not what happened at all.  “How queer everything is to-day! And yesterday things went on just as usual, I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning?” -The Cheshire Cat Fortuitously for us, the easiest way to correct the misconception around the FCS only emerging after airborne transmission between animal hosts, or being an insert that got added directly into the genome by evolution as a response to that pressure, is to examine SARS-CoV-2 and its behavior during serial passage as a quasispecies mutant swarm. The quasispecies swarm model approaches RNA viruses not as discrete genotypes transmitted on by discrete strains, but instead as quasispecies of mutant swarms of virions which carry distinct but complimentary sets of alleles - collections of genes thought to work together - which work in concert in real-time to establish and expand infections. One of the first empirical changes that comes once you consider an RNA virus as a quasispecies is that at any point in time an average of all the extant variants’ genomes serves as the smallest selective unit, as opposed to using individual virions or any single extant genome in a population, the classical approach.  This quasispecies viral swarming is an amorphous behavior that describes the search for fitness that occurs as each successive generation of the swarm produces another spectra of mutations, with the term “quasispecies” specifically describing “distributions of non-identical but related genomes subjected to a continuous process of genetic variation, competition, and selection, and which act as a unit of selection.” Each of these distributions can be considered clouds of allelic statistical possibilities, each of which represents the spectrum of mutations that can be expected to emerge within a set number of generations, so their ratios will be constantly changing over successive generations and in different environmental settings. This type of effect has just begun to be explored within the classical model, by quantifying the antigenic waves that shimmer across the surface of quasispecies mutant swarms as they shift between the host populations, and using these measurements to indirectly measure the quasispecies swarm itself without really getting the full picture of what’s really going on.  With quasispecies viruses replicating continually once a successful infection has set in and begun to smolder, the most-fit variant for a given tissue will predominate in that one tissue when a sample is taken only from it. However, although only one variant will appear in the smoky quasispecies mutant swarm infecting the tissue, the smoldering infection will be continually throwing off new variants which represent different points in the possible mutational spectrum – some of which will be better adapted to neighboring tissue, and others acting as accelerants for the predominate variant, intensifying its virulence. And just like one gas acting as an accelerant for another’s combustion can be modeled mathematically by looking at their relative binding tendencies to different elements and how they react at different concentrations, the mathematical inevitability of quasispecies mutant swarms fully exploring their mutational spectrum and finding variants to fuel their spread isn’t any different. It’s only the language that varies, as the literature currently describes the positive selection quasispecies mutant variants resulting in “hitchhiking” between mutations on variants in the same swarm, the exact same concept as different variants and their mutations acting as accelerates for each other during gaseous chemical combustion. Or in a more traditional sense, quasispecies mutant swarms likely depend on a sort of accidentally eusocial viral altruism to prosper. As one study revealed, although its usually possible to identify a majority consensus sequence from a sample of a host infected by COVID-19, the sample had a broad median variant count of 23, with nearly 250 different variants found in total just within one single host.  And considering that about half of the observed mutations thought to have a significant impact on gene expression and samples differing throughout the day even in the same organ system, as well as the fact that barely 2% of the minority variants were found to overlap at all between any two hosts - the inherently nebulous quasispecies mutant swarming nature of SARS-CoV-2 begins to coalesce even more. So as with any virus, but especially with coronaviruses, it’s important to keep in mind that hidden within their large genomes are entire suites of accessory genes which only appear functional while actually living inside their hosts, in vivo, and whose function won’t be observable within the virtual environment in lab Petri dishes, in vitro: “the coronavirus group-specific genes are not essential for growth in cell culture but function in virus-host interactions.” This means that some coronavirus genes get effectively muted when the virus isn’t being challenged by the immune system of an entire host body, which also helps explain why SARS-CoV-2 violates the “canyon hypothesis,” and has a region of its genome which appears never to have been challenged by a full host immune system like every other human coronavirus.  And so with the quasispecies model in mind, maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise that our friendly neighborhood novel coronavirus has an FCS that isn’t exactly permanent, and can pull a little bit of a disappearing act - or at least what appears to us as outside scientific observers to be a disappearing act. Since it turns out SARS-C0V-2’s quasispecies swarm almost immediately loses its FCS when it’s passaged through Vero cells, which are derived from a line of African green monkey kidney cells that’s commonly used for cell culture, or in vitro, experiments.   These cells don’t present the same set of immune challenges as a full host, hardly a tiny fraction of them, and so it turns out SARS-CoV-2’s quasispecies swarm no longer needs the group-specific genes to cleave certain cell types conferred by an FCS when its in these friendly isolated cell-culture kidney cells - meaning it drops off, almost entirely in a single passage.  Almost, but not entirely. A phrase that defines trying to understand quasispecies mutant swarms overall.  But okay, the FCS can be almost entirely lost without all the immune challenges posed by a full host, but then how did it get there in the first place? The exact same way the H5N1 strains “gained” it during the 2012 experiments with ferrets and influenza: It was always there to begin with.  “When the day becomes the night and the sky becomes the sea, when the clock strikes heavy and there’s no time for tea; and in our darkest hour, before my final rhyme, she will come back home to Wonderland and turn back the hands of time.” - The Cheshire Cat In each of the 2012 serial passage experiments with influenza strains and ferrets, the FCS didn’t appear as a response to the challenge of airborne transmission between hosts, it existed in a very small frequency within each H5N1 swarm prior to each experiment, and then quickly reached majority status once the bottleneck of jumping from ferret-to-ferret in the air was presented.  It was observed by each team after successful airborne transmission between ferrets, however before this challenge was presented to the H5N1 swarms, they were both first heavily mutated by artificial outside means - directly splicing in genes from H1N1 in the case of Dr. Yoshiro Kawaoka and bathing the swarm in a mutagen in the cast of Dr. Ron Fouchier - artificial, inherently sloppy, and unpredictable processes a long way from surgically splicing precise nucleotides in-and-out, which led to the emergence of the FCS in small minority subpopulations of their swarms prior to their presentation to ferrets for passaging. This was the challenge that created the FCS during those experiments, the outside intervention of scientists intent on carrying out their gain-of-function experiments, not the challenge of jumping through the air between ferrets. Once it exists anywhere in the swarm, the FCS is going to remain at levels that are too small for typical detection until its special ability is called for: Airborne transmission between mammalian hosts.  Directly supporting this is the reemergence of SARS-CoV-2’s FCS within Calu-3 cells - cells grown from the surface of human lungs - after it falls off in Vero cells. The swarm doesn’t need an FCS to flourish inside monkey kidney cells, inside Vero cells, however once it gets placed into human airway cells - now the chance of airborne transmission is back on the table, and so the FCS quickly returns to dominance inside the swarm, reaching fixation in just a single passage.  SARS-CoV-2’s affinity for human kidneys - up to 25% of its patients can suffer an acute kidney injury - is likely linked to this past history being passaged through Vero kidney cells during its development as a live-attenuated vaccine (LAV) - a vaccine built from an entire virus that’s supposed to be weakened down to the point where it can never establish symptomatic infections, but still serves as enough of a mock-up to provide our immune systems with the ability to recognize and neutralize the actual live version of that virus.  LAVs were discovered by Louis Pasteur of preserving dairy-products fame, who accidentally discovered that samples of chicken cholera left out in the elements got weakened to the point where they effectively became vaccines: Exposing healthy chickens to samples of cholera that’d been weakened, or attenuated by the elements, protected the chickens from infection by the full-strength virus without creating any symptoms during inoculation by the weakened strain. And although this version of a LAV wasn’t known to revert, the modern LAV that protects against Polio, called OPV, can and does revert all the way back to full virulence and cause paralysis in its hosts.  And to design a LAV against Yellow Fever, the only type of vaccine that would confer protection since it creates the strongest type, the first step was building a highly-pathogenic chimera built from genes of several different strains of that virus. This was also the first step to develop OPV, which has recently begun the paradoxical phenomenon of reassembling itself within vaccinated populations and establishing full paralytic virulence. In 2019 there were 176 cases of poliomyelitis derived from the OPV strain reverting back to virulence worldwide, when only 33 had been seen the year prior.  This enigmatic process, of a LAV reverting or deattenuating back to virulence, is one of the worst nightmares for the virological and vaccinological communities - in part because in the case of OPV, the fully reverted strains are able to infect absolutely everyone, even if they’ve been fully vaccinated or previously infected. And its a possibility virologists and vaccine-designers are all well-aware of.   After all, as our Dr. Ron Fouchier of ferret and influenza serial passage gain-of-function fame noted rather presciently in July of 2019, a few months before the start of the Wuhan Military Games: “That’s what happened in the 70s, people were trying to do live-attenuated vaccines and do human challenge studies and that might be the way the H1 re-emerged in the 70s. Some people say it was a lab accident. I don’t believe that. I think it was actually human challenge studies and live-attenuated vaccines that reverted that are the likely candidates of the 1970 reemergence of H1. And we need to make sure that doesn’t happen again.” Because when a LAV reverts, the viral swarm that emerges in the case of OPV at least runs right through both natural and vaccine-induced immunity, and this is even with a virus like Polio where the OPV vaccine is considered 100% effective and permanent.  Turns out OPV vaccine was almost, but not entirely effective.  And so SARS-CoV-2 and the experimental H5N1 viral swarms both expressing their FCS when they need to achieve airborne transmission serves as a canonical example of  “the convergent evolution that dominates virus–host interactions, since viral proteins evolve convergently and often accumulate many of the same linear motifs that mediate many functionally diverse biophysical interactions in order to manipulate complex host processes.” They’re both products of serial passage gain-of-function experiments, and both display the ability to gain and lose their FCS depending on whether or not mammalian airborne transmission is on the table. When SARS-CoV-2 is taken out of kidney cells where an FCS won’t possibly be needed for airborne transmission, it seems to disappear back into the shadows as it only remains within a small minority sub-population of the swarm, but when it’s placed back in human airway cells - in just one passage it can appear to reach fixation, although in reality there will always be a small minority subpopulation without it. But of course in the case of SARS-CoV-2, this ability for the minority population with the FCS to almost immediately become the dominant strain wasn’t first observed in the laboratory, but unfortunately for humanity occurred in the field during the Wuhan Military Games, when this unexpected emergence of the FCS-dominant swarm allowed for airborne transmission and kicked off our pandemic as the virus spread through the air all across Wuhan. The fact SARS-CoV-2 had an FCS in the first place was suppressed from the start, because of its obvious ties to the gain-of-function serial passage work of 2012. And because of the nature of quasispecies swarms, which often create the illusion that only one discrete variant is extant in a population since each isolated organ system tends to predominately host the variant that’s best suited for it at the time, this novel coronavirus appeared to have a rather immutable and stable genome - since nasal swabs will only ever catch the one variant happens to be winning in your nose at a given time.  However the full quasispecies swarm will always be there, it’s just not going to appear unless you look for it with far more exacting tools than just a nasal swab. And just like OPV and its perpetually reverting quasispecies swarm, SARS-CoV-2 is going to continue to revert back towards its original highly-pathogenic form so long as any transmissions are ongoing at all, going through gatekeeping mutations as it makes unexpected evolutionary leaps back towards full virulence.  “Only a few find the way, some don’t recognize it when they do – some… don’t ever want to.” -The Cheshire Cat H1N1 is the highly-pathogenic state of human influenza, it is not an alien virus - it is completely and entirely adapted to our genome and has been with us for thousands of years. H1N1 doesn’t create a pandemic by simply by existing in a population, it is the strain that wins out and emerges once there’s enough crowding and transmission events to trick human influenza into thinking that its host population is about to die off completely, and so it goes into a highly-pathogenic state in an attempt to jump into a new host species, in its case from humans and into pigs.   Highly-pathogenic avian influenzas are identified by the existence of an FCS, something H1N1 doesn’t need for our cells because its perfectly adapted to human populations to begin with:  “In 1997, small fragments of viral RNA were obtained for sequence analysis from an autopsy sample of a victim of the 1918 influenza. The initial characterization of the virus confirmed the H1N1 subtype and demonstrated that the 1918 HA did not possess the cleavage site mutation seen in the lethal H5 and H7 viruses. This finding eliminated the HA cleavage site mutation as an appealing explanation for the virulent behavior of the 1918 virus.” And although there haven’t been any more published gain-of-function experiments with avian influenza due to the very-selectively-enforced moratorium against the practice, in the years since poultry farms have served as their own handy real-life Petri dishes.  Studies of the H7N9 avian influenza as its emerged off of poultry farms in a highly-pathogenic state and managed to infect workers have revealed that the process of jumping from birds into people doesn’t just happen out of nowhere in one magic moment. In fact, it takes five successive waves of infections before the H7N9 swarm begins to regularly jump from birds into farm-workers, the only people in close-enough contact to the avian swarm for all five of these waves to antigenically wash over them, building up a swarm within their prospective new humans hosts, and also slowly altering the nature of H7N9’s swarm within both host species.  And of course since there’s a highly-pathogenic avian influenza forming, the FCS is the distinguishing feature found in the fifth wave that indicates humans are now at risk. However it’s not only found in the fifth wave, and begins to show up in earlier waves along with other genomic features that fully reach majority fixation in the fifth wave - again showcasing how the quasispecies mutant swarm will invariably change its shape over time, and depending on the challenges its facing. So in the many months since the COVID-19 Pandemic began, it’s abundantly clear the people who started it and are profiting the most from it have instructed the media not to talk about “serial passage” at all, nor the past links to vaccine research and past viral outbreaks, including the 1977 H1N1 outbreak linked to military vaccine gain-of-function work as well as the 2009 H1N1 endemic, both likely from serially passaged LAVs that were able to make their way back to full strength much faster than the scientists who designed them anticipated.  And so the silence from absolutely everyone when it comes to the connections our ongoing pandemic might have with vaccine research and serial passage is mirrored by the media’s refusal to discuss the millions and millions of culled farm-minks as a link to the obvious intermediate animal host. Since mink point directly to lab ferrets, their very close cousins, which were used during the 2012 gain-of-function experiments that led to a moratorium against the practice, and were almost certainly used to attenuate the SARS-like LAV, that would emerge at the Wuhan Military Games as SARS-CoV-2 - ferrets are the go-to animal to use for airborne vaccine work.  Which is why this novel virus was able to create a second simultaneous pandemic across mink farms all across dozens of nations on multiple continents, because the virus was still incredibly well-acclimated to their physiology, since it so closely mimics the ferrets that the virus was serially passaged through as it was attenuated and weakened down into a LAV - appearing to the scientists building it to lose its FCS at some past point along the way, when in reality it was always there, hiding and waiting for when its unique ability might be needed to smile on humanity.  And it’s almost certainly the past reversions of H1N1 LAVs in 1977 and 2009 that seemed to eventually just melt away, which sociopaths like Richard Ebright and the rest of his sweaty socially-retarded buddies at JASON are using to assure everyone that SARS-CoV-2, another LAV that’s reverting, will just melt away in just a few more months - just like H1N1 seems to have done twice. Unfortunately, unlike their mythical buddy: Each and everyone one of these arrogant old hacks was drawn into the siren song of multi-billion dollar defense and pharmaceutical contracts long ago, and they’re going to remain pushing for a fascist and entirely ineffective vaccination program because they’re rotten, filthy, diseased whores, and that is exactly what they are being paid to do.  Our novel coronavirus is not a naturally spreading and evolving virus, and it has not become endogenous to human populations after thousands of years of coevolution - it is reverting back towards a highly-pathogenic SARS-like chimera that our immune systems will be entirely helpless against, and is going through the same unexpected epistatic gatekeeping mutations that OPV does on its way back to full virulence, which vaccines are also entirely helpless against.  In the case of SARS-CoV-2, this gatekeeping results in the sudden emergence of new strains that appear evolutionarily impossible - like Omicron.  And so long as transmission is ongoing, there is nothing that is going to stop this pandemic except more death, because transmission means more gatekeeping, and gatekeeping means continued steps closer to the original strongest version of this highly-pathogenic virus.  Being completely and entirely acclimated to the human genome is not at all the case with OPV, a LAV against the Polio virus that’s reverting all across the third world and bringing back Polio’s terrible paralytic poliomyelitis. So OPV serves as a much more accurate analogy for SARS-CoV-2 than the H1N1 LAVs. Our novel coronavirus is a LAV derived from the work being done at UNC, the only place on earth trying to make a LAV for SARS-like viruses, which are also obviously not going to be fully acclimated to the human genome like the human influenza virus, which seems to have been with us at least since the Trojan War thousands of years ago.  Until SARS-CoV-2 is understood as a LAV that’s deattenuating towards a highly-pathogenic chimeric coronavirus that’s going through gatekeeping mutations and has no intention whatsoever of following the assumptions drawn from observing natural evolution or even the paths of the H1N1 LAVs which melted back into their original endogenous human hosts - humanity is going to continue to be standing on its head as it attempts to battle this pandemic, and misunderstanding the basic fundamental nature of what its up against.  It’s something we seem to be particularly good at, since all the way back in 1977 when the first H1N1 LAV emerged to a mass global panic, a massive push was made to create and distribute vaccines against what was thought to be a potentially pandemic strain. But it turns out that one of the ways a LAV isn’t a natural virus, is that when you attempt to vaccinate against it, neurological side-effects appear to proliferate among the vaccinated population, as the virus blows through this attempt at protection.  Because unfortunately for all of us, this isn’t the first time we’ve all been down the horrific rabbit-hole of trying to rush out an incredibly profitable vaccine against an enigmatic mystery virus that’s really a military LAV that deattenuated faster than expected. A vaccine which only provides only weak and temporary protection - but also causes wide-spread side-effects because it turns out the pharmaceutical companies were lying about their vaccine studies, and knowingly risked the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans so they could make as much money as quickly as possible: “We are all victims in-waiting.” -The Cheshire Cat Tyler Durden Mon, 12/06/2021 - 21:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 7th, 2021

The 24 best Black Friday clothing deals you can still shop today including up to 40% off at REI (live updates)

Black Friday 2021 is almost over. Here are the best fashion deals you can still shop today, including Old Navy, lululemon, Everlane, and REI. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Alyssa Powell/InsiderBlack Friday 2021 deals are still going strong (and Cyber Monday is right around the corner). So far, there have already been huge savings on things like 4K TVs, kitchen appliances, treadmills, and super soft bedding.These sales are also a great chance to redo your wardrobe. Whether you need staples like cashmere sweaters, want to replace old, stretched-out underwear and bras, or treat yourself to luxe sleepwear, there are tons of apparel deals today. We're talking up to 50% off at Old Navy, 60% off Everlane, 50% off Lululemon, and a whopping 70% off bras at Thirdlove.We don't promote any ole sale, either; at Insider Reviews, we extensively test every product we recommend. When it comes to fashion items, our writers and editors spend weeks, often months, trying out new coats, shoes, bags, and athleisure gear to see which are truly worth your money.We value sustainably made and long-lasting items in an effort to minimize waste and overconsumption, and even the more budget-friendly, fast-fashion items we recommend are of good enough quality to last you a full season.Below, we've selected the best fashion deals of Black Friday. Check back to this page often as we'll be adding new deals on a regular basis through the weekend and into Cyber Monday. For more savings at major retailers and startups, check our our list of the best early Cyber Monday deals.We're also rounding up specific Cyber Monday sales from Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Nordstrom.If you're looking for budget-friendly gifts, we're still tracking the best Black Friday deals under $50 too.REI, up to 40% offREIShop all deals at REI here.Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Insulated Hoodie (Womens)Weighing just 10.5 oz, this ultra lightweight jacket still provides plenty of warmth. Plus, it zips into its own pocket, making it great for on the go. Right now it's 50% off and currently still available in every size in all three colors it comes in.$131.99 FROM REIOriginally $250.00 | Save 47%Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Insulated Vest (Mens)The Ghost Shadow Insulated Vest weighs less than 9 ounces and will keep you warm on the coldest days.$89.99 FROM REIOriginally $150.00 | Save 40%Abercrombie, 30% offAbercrombie & FitchShop all deals at Abercrombie here.Abercrombie & Fitch Teddy CoatA super soft sherpa fabric and oversized, slouchy fit are a unique topper to any outfit.$112.00 FROM ABERCROMBIE & FITCHOriginally $160.00 | Save 30%Abercrombie & Fitch Curve Love High Rise Mom JeansThe Curve Love High Rise Mom Jeans have a flattering vintage look that taper down the leg for a fitting but comfortable style.$69.30 FROM ABERCROMBIE & FITCHOriginally $99.00 | Save 30%ASOS, up to 80% offAsosShop all deals at ASOS here.Adidas Originals Nizza SneakersThe Nizza sneakers are some of the most popular sneakers from Adidas. $56.00 FROM ASOSOriginally $70.00 | Save 20%Juicy Couture Round Lens SunglassesJuicy Couture is known for their iconic sweatsuits but they also make adorable accessories like these round lens sunglasses.$41.20 FROM ASOSOriginally $188.00 | Save 78%JW Pei, up to 40% off handbagsJW PeiShop all deals at JW Pei here.JW Pei Gabbi BagThe best part is, every item is under $100 and one hundred percent cruelty free. $75.00 FROM JW PEI Originally $89.00 | Save 16%JW Pei Julia Acrylic Chain Crossbody Bag Dark Green CrocJW Pei's Black Friday sale is offering some of the lowest prices we've seen on a variety of classic handbags that are cruelty-free. Score one of their bestselling bags like the Julia Acrylic Chain Crossbody Bag are more than 40% off right now.$39.00 FROM JW PEIOriginally $69.00 | Save 43%Old Navy, 50% offOld NavyShop all deals at Old Navy here.Old Navy Straight Rigid Jeans For MenA classic pair of straight-leg jeans, these are a staple pant for any wardrobe. $10.00 FROM OLD NAVYOriginally $34.99 | Save 71%Old Navy Water-Resistant Frost Free Short Puffer Jacket for WomenPuffer jackets are a stylish and trendy way to stay warm in the winter. The Water-Resistant Frost Free Short Puffer Jacket from Old Navy can be dressed up or down for a versatile winter look. $39.99 FROM OLD NAVYOriginally $79.98 | Save 50%Madewell, 30% off sitewideMadewellShop all deals at Madewell here.Madewell The Perfect Vintage JeanWith their waist-accentuating high rise and tapered legs, these are "mom jeans"...if your mom was a '90s supermodel. Plus, they're made of denim that has an old-school look and a touch of give for a perfectly broken-in feel.$80.50 FROM MADEWELLOriginally $115.00 | Save 30%Madewell Waller Crop Cardigan SweaterThe perfect winter green color for the holidays, the Waller Crop Cardigan Sweater is a stylish chunky knit cardigan. $68.59 FROM MADEWELLOriginally $98.00 | Save 30%GlassesUSA, up to 65% off select stylesGlassesUSAShop all GlassesUSA deals here.GlassesUSA.com Elliot Computer GlassesIn comparison to brick-and-mortar stores with limited selections and high prices, GlassesUSA.com offers all of your favorite brands for less.$32.90 FROM GLASSESUSA.COMOriginally $94.00 | Save 65%RayBan RB3025 AviatorThese aviators are classics for a reason. You can score them for 30% off during GlassesUSA's Black Friday sale.$112.70 FROM GLASSESUSAOriginally $161.00 | Save 30%Dagne Dover, 20% off everythingDagne Dover/FacebookShop all Dagne Dover deals here.Dagne Dover Indi Diaper BackpackDagne Dover's Indi Diaper Backpack adds a stylish neutral flair while holding every basic essential.$160.00 FROM DAGNE DOVEROriginally $200.00 | Save 20%Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene BackpackNo backpack has taken over the scene more than the Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack. The easily recognizable neoprene bag seamlessly transitions from office to gym thanks to its organization features and versatile look. $148.00 FROM DAGNE DOVER Originally $185.00 | Save 20%Lululemon, up to 50% off iconic tights and breezy men's workout teesLululemon Black Friday deals include 50% off cult-favorite leggings.LululemonShop all deals at Lululemon here.Lululemon Hooded Define JacketA fan-favorite, now with a hood. Between the technical fabric and a do-anything fit, it's easy to see why this one's a hit. Right now you can save up to 50% on this versatile piece, but sizes are selling out quickly. $64.00 FROM LULULEMONOriginally $128.00 | Save 50%Lululemon Wunder Under High-Rise TightLululemon is, in many ways, the genesis of athleisure, so it's not surprising that the company has an edge in the space.$69.00 FROM LULULEMONOriginally $98.00 | Save 30%Lululemon Metal Vent Breathe Short SleeveLululemon Metal Vent Breathe Short Sleeve $49.00 FROM LULULEMONOriginally $78.00 | Save 37%Bonobos, 30% off sitewideBonobosShop all Bonobos deals here.Bonobos The Sherpa JacketBonobos is a favorite for its outerwear, and during the brand's Black Friday sale, you can get $30 off this cozy shacket. Just use code friday30 at checkout. $98.00 FROM BONOBOSOriginally $139.00 | Save 29%Bonobos Corduroy 5-Pocket PantsThese corduroy pants can be easily dressed up or down. During Bonobos' Black Friday sale, you can sang them for just $70.$70.00 FROM BONOBOSOriginally $99.00 | Save 29%Everlane, 40%-60% on luxe sustainable clothingEverlane Black Friday deals include 60% off its sustainable clothing.EverlaneShop all deals at Everlane here.Everlane The Utility Boot in ReKnitThe Utility Boot is made from a textured knit fabric with a high ankle height and a chunky lug sole, making the fit and each step more secure. $69.00 FROM EVERLANEOriginally $115.00 | Save 40%Everlane The Canvas OverallsToss these chic overalls on over just about any shirt for a cool, relaxed outfit instantly. $58.00 FROM EVERLANEOriginally $98.00 | Save 41%Everlane The Track JoggerA premium organic sweatpant—made for the track ahead. Featuring an elastic waistband, an easy high rise, handy side pockets, and a relaxed tapered leg, the Track Jogger has a signature look that will stand the test of time. $34.00 FROM EVERLANEOriginally $58.00 | Save 41%Nordstrom, 45% off Barbour, 30% off Thread & Supply coatsNordstrom department store, with logo and signage, in the upscale Broadway Plaza shopping center in downtown Walnut Creek, California.Smith Collection/Getty Images)Shop all deals at Nordstrom here.Thread & Supply Dolman Sleeve Quilted JacketDesigned with a stand collar and lightweight material, the Dolman Sleeve Quilted Jacket is perfect jacket to wear between seasons. $33.00 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $55.00 | Save 40%True & Co. True Body Triangle Convertible Strap BraletteThe convertible straps on this wireless bra can be worn either straight or crisscrossed, and the smooth material appears invisible under clothes.$30.80 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $44.00 | Save 30%Spanx Faux Leather LeggingsMade with the same level of support as its signature shapewear but with a little extra stretch, these leggings are designed to not only make you look great but feel great, too. $78.40 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $98.00 | Save 20%$78.40 FROM SPANX Originally $98.00 | Save 20%Adidas, up to 50% off slides, joggers, and UltraBoostsAdidasShop all deals at Adidas here.Adidas Adilette Boost SlidesWith full-length Boost soles, these slides are designed for ultimate comfort.$48.00 FROM ADIDAS Originally $60.00 | Save 20%Adidas UltraBoost 21 (Women's)Updated for 2021, the Ultra Boost 21 features more Boost cushioning than its predecessors. $135.00 FROM ADIDASOriginally $180.00 | Save 25%Adidas Ultimate 365 3-Stripes Tapered PantsIf you're a fan of the classics, then look no further than Adidas to supply you with great performance gear that looks good, too.$72.00 FROM ADIDASOriginally $90.00 | Save 20%Columbia Sportswear, 50% off warm winter jacketsColumbia Sportswear Black Friday deals include 50% off durable winter coats.Columbia SportswearShop all deals at Columbia Sportswear here.Columbia Men's Lake 22 Down Hooded JacketThis water-resistant jacket is stocked with 650-fill power down insulation, zippered hand pockets, and a structured hood to keep you zipped up and toasty through any winter weather.$69.98 FROM COLUMBIAOriginally $140.00 | Save 50%Columbia Men's Cascade Peak™ IV Interchange JacketThis two-for-one deal includes an outer, waterproof but breathable shell and an inner 700-fill down puffy jacket for full weather protection. It rocks tons of protective features like a structured hood and Omni-Heat thermal reflectivity to keep you super warm, and vents when you need to cool down a bit.$149.99 FROM COLUMBIAOriginally $300.00 | Save 50%Columbia Women's Benton Springs Full Zip Fleece JacketWomen's Benton Springs Full Zip Fleece Jacket$29.99 FROM COLUMBIAOriginally $60.00 | Save 50%$28.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $47.89 | Save 39%$29.99 FROM KOHL'SOriginally $60.00 | Save 50%Columbia Icelandite TurboDown JacketWith 550-fill down insulation and Omni-Heat reflective technology, this jacket will keep you ridiculously warm — and it has a flattering and functional fit.$174.99 FROM COLUMBIAOriginally $300.00 | Save 42%Crocs, 20-50% off classic clogsCrocs Black Friday deals include up to 50% off its classic clogs.Hou Yu/China News Service/Getty ImagesShop all deals at Crocs here.Crocs Classic Clog (Unisex)The shoe that really started it all, the Classic Clog is comfortable, breathable, and easy to slip on whenever. With over 20 fun colors to choose from, you can’t go wrong.$39.99 FROM CROCSOriginally $49.99 | Save 20%$27.55 FROM AMAZONCrocs Kids' Classic ClogAvailable in children's sizes 4 to 13, juniors' sizes 1 to 3, and 16 different colors.$27.99 FROM CROCSOriginally $34.99 | Save 20%Girlfriend Collective, 30% off everythingGirlfriend Collective Black Friday deals include 30% off its sustainable athleisure.Girlfriend CollectiveShop all deals at Girlfriend Collective here.Girlfriend Collective High Waist Full-Length LeggingsThe Girlfriend Collective High Waist Leggings are lightweight but truly supportive workout pants. $54.60 FROM GIRLFRIEND COLLECTIVEOriginally $78.00 | Save 30%Girlfriend Collective Simone BraThe Simone Bra from Girlfriend Collective is built for support, with a criss-cross style and sizes up to 5XL. $36.40 FROM GIRLFRIEND COLLECTIVEOriginally $48.00 | Save 24%Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Bike ShortGirlfriend Collective has some of the best athleisure leggings we've ever tried, and we appreciate the brand's color variety, relatively low price points, and inclusive size range.$33.60 FROM GIRLFRIEND COLLECTIVEOriginally $48.00 | Save 30%Levi's, 60% off iconic denimLevi's Black Friday deals include 60% off denim.Levi's FacebookShop all deals at Levi's here.Levi's 501 Original Fit JeansA blank canvas for self-expression, featuring the iconic straight fit and signature button fly.$58.80 FROM LEVI'SOriginally $98.00 | Save 40%Levi's Women's Ribcage Straight Ankle JeansThe Ribcage Jean — with its soaring 12-inch rise — has become a hip-slimming, waist-defining, leg-lengthening obsession. $58.80 FROM LEVI'SOriginally $98.00 | Save 40%Parade, 30% off comfy underwearParadeShop all deals at Parade here.Parade ThongParade is a body-positive underwear startup that focuses on inclusivity and affordability.$6.00 FROM PARADEOriginally $9.00 | Save 33%Parade High Rise Boyshort UniversalWhen I first saw these boy shorts, I thought they'd be perfect for wearing under sundresses in the summer. And I was right! There's plenty of coverage, but the material is so lightweight and comfortable that it feels much closer to underwear than actual shorts. Based on similar pairs I own, I expected the one drawback to be that the high waist would roll down, but that hasn't been my experience yet. To my surprise, there was no rolling or bunching. They're also great for sleeping in. Similar to the thong, I went with my usual size and had no issues with the fit. I'm not sure they'll replace all of my everyday pairs, but everyone needs a few seamless styles and these offer some of the best value I've ever seen.$7.00 FROM PARADEOriginally $10.00 | Save 30%Bombas, 20% off sock bundles to giftBombasShop all deals at Bombas here.Bombas Women's Calf & Ankle Sock 12-PackCozy socks never look so good than with this colorful 12-pack of vibrant print socks. Bombas socks guarantee extreme comfort thanks to its soft cotton, cushioned footbed, and arch support detail. $163.19 FROM BOMBASOriginally $192.00 | Save 15%Bombas Youth Sesame Street 8-Pack Gift BoxBombas partnered with Sesame Street to bring color and comfort to youth socks, featuring stay-up technology and a different Sesame Street character on every pair. $56.00 FROM BOMBASOriginally $70.00 | Save 20%Bombas Women's Gripper Slipper (Sherpa Lined) 2-PackA mix between socks and slippers, Bombas' Gripper Slippers include a cozy sherpa lining and sole grippers to prevent slips. $72.95 FROM BOMBASOriginally $96.00 | Save 24%Bombas Cotton Modal Boxer BriefMade from a blend of cotton and modal, Bombas' underwear at soft and comfortable, yet durable.$24.00 FROM BOMBASOriginally $30.00 | Save 20%Saxx, 20-40% off boxers, sweatpants, and shortsSaxxShop all deals at Saxx here.Saxx Ultra Boxer BriefThe Saxx Ultra Boxer Brief features the Ball Park Pouch for support and an easy access fly.$24.89 FROM SAXXOriginally $32.00 | Save 22%Saxx Snooze PantsMelting into the couch, devouring munchies and upping your comfort level from sunrise to sunset.$51.89 FROM SAXXOriginally $65.00 | Save 20%Saxx Nightcrawler Onesie Made using premium Modal fabric, the Nightcrawler onesie is ready to take your comfort to a whole other level.$56.89 FROM SAXXOriginally $95.00 | Save 40%L.L.Bean, 15% off cozy slippersSally Kaplan/InsiderShop all deals at L.L.Bean here.L.L.Bean Wicked Good Slippers - Men'sThis shearling-lined, leather-bottom slipper is one of the best men's slippers we've ever tried.$75.65 FROM L.L.BEANOriginally $89.00 | Save 15%L.L.Bean Toddlers' Wicked Good SlippersEverything we love about L.L.Bean's Wicked Good Slippers — but mini. These shearling-lined, leather-soled booties will keep kid's feet, sizes 3-10, toasty around the house and in a stroller.$33.96 FROM L.L.BEANOriginally $39.95 | Save 15%L.L.Bean Wicked Good Shearling-Lined Slides - Women'sThese ridiculously-cozy, shearling-lined slides are easy to slip on and off, and keep your feet toasty around the house.$67.15 FROM L.L.BEANOriginally $79.00 | Save 15%Macy's, 40% off Levi's jeans, 30% off The North Face hoodiesAP Photo/David ZalubowskiShop all deals at Macy's here.The North Face Women's Osito Quarter-Zip HoodieTK$76.30 FROM MACY'SOriginally $109.00 | Save 30%JBU Women's Maplewood Casual Duck BootTK$19.98 FROM MACY'SOriginally $69.98 | Save 71%Thirdlove, 45% off pajamas, up to 72% off brasThirdLoveShop all deals at Thirdlove here.Thirdlove WonderKnit™ Pajama TeeFor you to rest easy, meet the Wonder™ Knit Pajama Tee. Made in airy modal, perfectly draped, and effortlessly flowy, it’s like a cool breeze you can wear to bed.$25.00 FROM THIRDLOVEOriginally $45.00 | Save 44%Thirdlove WonderKnit™ Pajama ShortMade in airy modal, with a clean elastic waistband and effortlessly flowy, these shorts are like a cool breeze you can wear to bed.$25.00 FROM THIRDLOVEOriginally $45.00 | Save 44%ThirdLove 24/7 Perfect Coverage BraThe 24/7™ Perfect Coverage Bra’s signature cups are designed with hybrid memory foam that does double duty, providing softness inside and support outside. $49.00 FROM THIRDLOVEOriginally $65.00 | Save 25%Janji, 20% off running apparelJanjiShop all deals at Janji here.Janji Janji 3" AFO Middle Shorts (Women's)Whether you're a runner, a cyclist, or an average person who simply likes clothes with usable storage, Janji is a brand you should check out. We love their running shorts and right now they’re selling for more than 50% off their usual price at REI.$48.00 FROM JANJIOriginally $60.00 | Save 20%$44.93 FROM REI CO-OPOriginally $60.00 | Save 25%Janji Runterra Bio Long Sleevesynthetic-blend long sleeve is moisture-wicking and comfortable for runs, then completely biodegradable when you've run it into the ground.$51.00 FROM JANJIOriginally $64.00 | Save 20%Black Friday 2021 FAQsWhat is Black Friday?Black Friday is one of the biggest sales events of the year that always falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday shopping season. While the sales event used to be just one day and largely in person, you can now often score Black Friday deals not just on Friday but through the following weekend. (You can certainly still shop big savings in stores, too, not just online.) We often see the largest savings for the entire year.When is Black Friday 2021?Black Friday falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year, Black Friday is on November 26. While it's technically just one day, we've already seen Black Friday deals all week long before the Big Event, and still see savings at most retailers for the Saturday and Sunday that follow.What should you buy on Black Friday?In an effort to curb overconsumption, you should really just buy what you need on Black Friday. However, as far as what items we see the biggest deals on for the sale day, we highly recommend snagging smart home devices, kitchen appliances, TVs, luxury bedding, home gym equipment, and gaming consoles if you're already in the market for these, as there's a huge slash in prices for these items this year.Black Friday is also a great opportunity to clean out your holiday shopping list. We have incredibly thorough gift guides available for every budget and every type of person, and this sales event is a great time to score those giftable items for less.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 28th, 2021

The 18 best Black Friday clothing deals you can still shop today including 50% off select luluemon gear (live updates)

Black Friday 2021 is almost over. Here are the best fashion deals you can still shop today, including lululemon, Everlane, and Dagne Dover. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Alyssa Powell/InsiderBlack Friday 2021 deals keep pouring in (and Cyber Monday is right around the corner). So far, there have already been huge savings on things like 4K TVs, kitchen appliances, treadmills, and super soft bedding.These sales are also a great chance to redo your wardrobe. Whether you need staples like cashmere sweaters, want to replace old, stretched-out underwear and bras, or treat yourself to luxe sleepwear, there are tons of apparel deals today. We're talking up to 60% off Everlane, 50% off Lululemon, and a whopping 70% off bras at Thirdlove.We don't promote any ole sale, either; at Insider Reviews, we extensively test every product we recommend. When it comes to fashion items, our writers and editors spend weeks, often months, trying out new coats, shoes, bags, and athleisure gear to see which are truly worth your money.We value sustainably made and long-lasting items in an effort to minimize waste and overconsumption, and even the more budget-friendly, fast-fashion items we recommend are of good enough quality to last you a full season.Below, we've selected the best fashion deals of Black Friday. Check back to this page often as we'll be adding new deals on a regular basis through the weekend and into Cyber Monday. GlassesUSA, up to 65% off select stylesGlassesUSAShop all GlassesUSA deals here. GlassesUSA.com Elliot Computer GlassesIn comparison to brick-and-mortar stores with limited selections and high prices, GlassesUSA.com offers all of your favorite brands for less.$32.60 FROM GLASSESUSA.COMOriginally $94.00 | Save 65%RayBan RB3025 AviatorThese aviators are classics for a reason. You can score them for 30% off during GlassesUSA's Black Friday sale.$112.70 FROM GLASSESUSAOriginally $161.00 | Save 30%Dagne Dover, 20% off everythingDagne Dover/FacebookShop all Dagne Dover deals here. Dagne Dover Indi Diaper BackpackDagne Dover's Indi Diaper Backpack adds a stylish neutral flair while holding every basic essential.$160.00 FROM DAGNE DOVEROriginally $200.00 | Save 20%Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene BackpackNo backpack has taken over the scene more than the Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack. The easily recognizable neoprene bag seamlessly transitions from office to gym thanks to its organization features and versatile look. $148.00 FROM DAGNE DOVER Originally $185.00 | Save 20%Lululemon, up to 50% off iconic tights and breezy men's workout teesLululemon Black Friday deals include 50% off cult-favorite leggings.LululemonShop all deals at Lululemon hereLululemon Hooded Define JacketA fan-favorite, now with a hood. Between the technical fabric and a do-anything fit, it's easy to see why this one's a hit. Right now you can save up to 50% on this versatile piece, but sizes are selling out quickly. $64.00 FROM LULULEMONOriginally $128.00 | Save 50%Lululemon Wunder Under High-Rise TightLululemon is, in many ways, the genesis of athleisure, so it's not surprising that the company has an edge in the space.$69.00 FROM LULULEMONOriginally $98.00 | Save 30%Lululemon Metal Vent Breathe Short SleeveLululemon Metal Vent Breathe Short Sleeve $49.00 FROM LULULEMONOriginally $78.00 | Save 37%Bonobos, 30% off sitewideBonobosShop all Bonobos deals here. Bonobos The Sherpa JacketBonobos is a favorite for its outerwear, and during the brand's Black Friday sale, you can get $30 off this cozy shacket. Just use code friday30 at checkout. $98.00 FROM BONOBOSOriginally $139.00 | Save 29%Bonobos Corduroy 5-Pocket PantsThese corduroy pants can be easily dressed up or down. During Bonobos' Black Friday sale, you can sang them for just $70.$70.00 FROM BONOBOSOriginally $99.00 | Save 29%Everlane, 40%-60% on luxe sustainable clothingEverlane Black Friday deals include 60% off its sustainable clothing.EverlaneShop all deals at Everlane here.Everlane The Utility Boot in ReKnitThe Utility Boot is made from a textured knit fabric with a high ankle height and a chunky lug sole, making the fit and each step more secure. $69.00 FROM EVERLANEOriginally $115.00 | Save 40%Everlane Track Oversized CrewA premium organic sweatshirt—made for the track ahead. Featuring a classic crew neckline, dropped shoulders, voluminous sleeves, and a relaxed fit, the Track Oversized Crew has a signature look that will stand the test of time.$29.00 FROM EVERLANEOriginally $48.00 | Save 40%Everlane The Canvas OverallsToss these chic overalls on over just about any shirt for a cool, relaxed outfit instantly. $58.00 FROM EVERLANEOriginally $98.00 | Save 41%Everlane The Track JoggerA premium organic sweatpant—made for the track ahead. Featuring an elastic waistband, an easy high rise, handy side pockets, and a relaxed tapered leg, the Track Jogger has a signature look that will stand the test of time. $34.00 FROM EVERLANEOriginally $58.00 | Save 41%Nordstrom, 45% off Barbour, 30% off Thread & Supply coatsNordstrom department store, with logo and signage, in the upscale Broadway Plaza shopping center in downtown Walnut Creek, California.Smith Collection/Getty Images)Shop all deals at Nordstrom here.Thread & Supply Dolman Sleeve Quilted JacketDesigned with a stand collar and lightweight material, the Dolman Sleeve Quilted Jacket is perfect jacket to wear between seasons. $33.00 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $55.00 | Save 40%True & Co. True Body Triangle Convertible Strap BraletteThe convertible straps on this wireless bra can be worn either straight or crisscrossed, and the smooth material appears invisible under clothes.$30.80 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $44.00 | Save 30%Spanx Faux Leather LeggingsMade with the same level of support as its signature shapewear but with a little extra stretch, these leggings are designed to not only make you look great but feel great, too. $78.40 FROM NORDSTROMOriginally $98.00 | Save 20%$78.40 FROM SPANX Originally $98.00 | Save 20%Adidas, up to 50% off slides, joggers, and UltraBoostsAdidasShop all deals at Adidas here.Adidas Adilette Boost SlidesWith full-length Boost soles, these slides are designed for ultimate comfort.$48.00 FROM ADIDAS Originally $60.00 | Save 20%Adidas UltraBoost 21 (Women's)Updated for 2021, the Ultra Boost 21 features more Boost cushioning than its predecessors. $135.00 FROM ADIDASOriginally $180.00 | Save 25%Adidas Ultimate 365 3-Stripes Tapered PantsIf you're a fan of the classics, then look no further than Adidas to supply you with great performance gear that looks good, too.$72.00 FROM ADIDASOriginally $90.00 | Save 20%Columbia Sportswear, 50% off warm winter jacketsColumbia Sportswear Black Friday deals include 50% off durable winter coats.Columbia SportswearShop all deals at Columbia Sportswear here.Columbia Men's Lake 22 Down Hooded JacketThis water-resistant jacket is stocked with 650-fill power down insulation, zippered hand pockets, and a structured hood to keep you zipped up and toasty through any winter weather.$69.98 FROM COLUMBIAOriginally $140.00 | Save 50%Columbia Men's Cascade Peak™ IV Interchange JacketThis two-for-one deal includes an outer, waterproof but breathable shell and an inner 700-fill down puffy jacket for full weather protection. It rocks tons of protective features like a structured hood and Omni-Heat thermal reflectivity to keep you super warm, and vents when you need to cool down a bit.$149.99 FROM COLUMBIAOriginally $300.00 | Save 50%Columbia Women's Benton Springs Full Zip Fleece JacketWomen's Benton Springs Full Zip Fleece Jacket$29.99 FROM COLUMBIAOriginally $60.00 | Save 50%$28.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $47.89 | Save 39%$29.99 FROM KOHL'SOriginally $60.00 | Save 50%Columbia Icelandite TurboDown JacketWith 550-fill down insulation and Omni-Heat reflective technology, this jacket will keep you ridiculously warm — and it has a flattering and functional fit.$174.99 FROM COLUMBIAOriginally $300.00 | Save 42%Crocs, 20-50% off classic clogsCrocs Black Friday deals include up to 50% off its classic clogs.Hou Yu/China News Service/Getty ImagesShop all deals at Crocs here.Crocs Classic Clog (Unisex)The shoe that really started it all, the Classic Clog is comfortable, breathable, and easy to slip on whenever. With over 20 fun colors to choose from, you can’t go wrong.$39.99 FROM CROCSOriginally $49.99 | Save 20%$27.45 FROM AMAZONCrocs Kids' Classic ClogAvailable in children's sizes 4 to 13, juniors' sizes 1 to 3, and 16 different colors.$27.99 FROM CROCSOriginally $34.99 | Save 20%Girlfriend Collective, 30% off everythingGirlfriend Collective Black Friday deals include 30% off its sustainable athleisure.Girlfriend CollectiveShop all deals at Girlfriend Collective here.Girlfriend Collective High Waist Full-Length LeggingsThe Girlfriend Collective High Waist Leggings are lightweight but truly supportive workout pants. $54.60 FROM GIRLFRIEND COLLECTIVEOriginally $78.00 | Save 30%Girlfriend Collective Simone BraThe Simone Bra from Girlfriend Collective is built for support, with a criss-cross style and sizes up to 5XL. $36.40 FROM GIRLFRIEND COLLECTIVEOriginally $48.00 | Save 24%Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Bike ShortGirlfriend Collective has some of the best athleisure leggings we've ever tried, and we appreciate the brand's color variety, relatively low price points, and inclusive size range.$33.60 FROM GIRLFRIEND COLLECTIVEOriginally $48.00 | Save 30%Levi's, 60% off iconic denimLevi's Black Friday deals include 60% off denim.Levi's FacebookShop all deals at Levi's here.Levi's 501 Original Fit JeansA blank canvas for self-expression, featuring the iconic straight fit and signature button fly.$58.80 FROM LEVI'SOriginally $98.00 | Save 40%Parade, 30% off comfy underwearParadeShop all deals at Parade here.Parade ThongParade is a body-positive underwear startup that focuses on inclusivity and affordability.$6.00 FROM PARADEOriginally $9.00 | Save 33%Parade High Rise Boyshort UniversalWhen I first saw these boy shorts, I thought they'd be perfect for wearing under sundresses in the summer. And I was right! There's plenty of coverage, but the material is so lightweight and comfortable that it feels much closer to underwear than actual shorts. Based on similar pairs I own, I expected the one drawback to be that the high waist would roll down, but that hasn't been my experience yet. To my surprise, there was no rolling or bunching. They're also great for sleeping in. Similar to the thong, I went with my usual size and had no issues with the fit. I'm not sure they'll replace all of my everyday pairs, but everyone needs a few seamless styles and these offer some of the best value I've ever seen.$7.00 FROM PARADEOriginally $10.00 | Save 30%Bombas, 20% off sock bundles to giftBombasShop all deals at Bombas here.Bombas Women's Calf & Ankle Sock 12-PackCozy socks never look so good than with this colorful 12-pack of vibrant print socks. Bombas socks guarantee extreme comfort thanks to its soft cotton, cushioned footbed, and arch support detail. $130.56 FROM BOMBASOriginally $163.19 | Save 20%Bombas Youth Sesame Street 8-Pack Gift BoxBombas partnered with Sesame Street to bring color and comfort to youth socks, featuring stay-up technology and a different Sesame Street character on every pair. $56.00 FROM BOMBASOriginally $70.00 | Save 20%Bombas Women's Gripper Slipper (Sherpa Lined) 2-PackA mix between socks and slippers, Bombas' Gripper Slippers include a cozy sherpa lining and sole grippers to prevent slips. $72.95 FROM BOMBASOriginally $96.00 | Save 24%Bombas Cotton Modal Boxer BriefMade from a blend of cotton and modal, Bombas' underwear at soft and comfortable, yet durable.$24.00 FROM BOMBASOriginally $30.00 | Save 20%Saxx, 20-40% off boxers, sweatpants, and shortsSaxxShop all deals at Saxx here.Saxx Ultra Boxer BriefThe Saxx Ultra Boxer Brief features the Ball Park Pouch for support and an easy access fly.$24.89 FROM SAXXOriginally $32.00 | Save 22%Saxx Snooze PantsMelting into the couch, devouring munchies and upping your comfort level from sunrise to sunset.$51.89 FROM SAXXOriginally $65.00 | Save 20%Saxx Nightcrawler Onesie Made using premium Modal fabric, the Nightcrawler onesie is ready to take your comfort to a whole other level.$56.89 FROM SAXXOriginally $95.00 | Save 40%L.L.Bean, 15% off cozy slippersSally Kaplan/InsiderShop all deals at L.L.Bean here.L.L.Bean Wicked Good Slippers - Men'sThis shearling-lined, leather-bottom slipper is one of the best men's slippers we've ever tried.$75.65 FROM L.L.BEANOriginally $89.00 | Save 15%L.L.Bean Toddlers' Wicked Good SlippersEverything we love about L.L.Bean's Wicked Good Slippers — but mini. These shearling-lined, leather-soled booties will keep kid's feet, sizes 3-10, toasty around the house and in a stroller.$33.96 FROM L.L.BEANOriginally $39.95 | Save 15%L.L.Bean Wicked Good Shearling-Lined Slides - Women'sThese ridiculously-cozy, shearling-lined slides are easy to slip on and off, and keep your feet toasty around the house.$67.15 FROM L.L.BEANOriginally $79.00 | Save 15%Macy's, 40% off Levi's jeans, 30% off The North Face hoodiesAP Photo/David ZalubowskiShop all deals at Macy's here.The North Face Women's Osito Quarter-Zip HoodieTK$76.30 FROM MACY'SOriginally $109.00 | Save 30%JBU Women's Maplewood Casual Duck BootTK$19.98 FROM MACY'SOriginally $69.98 | Save 71%Thirdlove, 45% off pajamas, up to 72% off brasThirdLoveShop all deals at Thirdlove here.Thirdlove WonderKnit™ Pajama TeeFor you to rest easy, meet the Wonder™ Knit Pajama Tee. Made in airy modal, perfectly draped, and effortlessly flowy, it’s like a cool breeze you can wear to bed.$25.00 FROM THIRDLOVEOriginally $45.00 | Save 44%Thirdlove WonderKnit™ Pajama ShortMade in airy modal, with a clean elastic waistband and effortlessly flowy, these shorts are like a cool breeze you can wear to bed.$25.00 FROM THIRDLOVEOriginally $45.00 | Save 44%ThirdLove 24/7 Perfect Coverage BraThe 24/7™ Perfect Coverage Bra’s signature cups are designed with hybrid memory foam that does double duty, providing softness inside and support outside. $18.00 FROM THIRDLOVEOriginally $65.00 | Save 72%Janji, 20% off running apparelJanjiShop all deals at Janji here.Janji Janji 3" AFO Middle Shorts (Women's)Whether you're a runner, a cyclist, or an average person who simply likes clothes with usable storage, Janji is a brand you should check out. We love their running shorts and right now they’re selling for more than 50% off their usual price at REI.$48.00 FROM JANJIOriginally $60.00 | Save 20%$44.93 FROM REI CO-OPOriginally $60.00 | Save 25%Janji Runterra Bio Long Sleevesynthetic-blend long sleeve is moisture-wicking and comfortable for runs, then completely biodegradable when you've run it into the ground.$51.00 FROM JANJIOriginally $64.00 | Save 20%Black Friday 2021 FAQsWhat is Black Friday?Black Friday is one of the biggest sales events of the year that always falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday shopping season. While the sales event used to be just one day and largely in person, you can now often score Black Friday deals not just on Friday but through the following weekend. (You can certainly still shop big savings in stores, too, not just online.) We often see the largest savings for the entire year.When is Black Friday 2021?Black Friday falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year, Black Friday is on November 26. While it's technically just one day, we've already seen Black Friday deals all week long before the Big Event, and still see savings at most retailers for the Saturday and Sunday that follow.What should you buy on Black Friday?In an effort to curb overconsumption, you should really just buy what you need on Black Friday. However, as far as what items we see the biggest deals on for the sale day, we highly recommend snagging smart home devices, kitchen appliances, TVs, luxury bedding, home gym equipment, and gaming consoles if you're already in the market for these, as there's a huge slash in prices for these items this year.Black Friday is also a great opportunity to clean out your holiday shopping list. We have incredibly thorough gift guides available for every budget and every type of person, and this sales event is a great time to score those giftable items for less.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytNov 27th, 2021

Black Friday Turns Red On "Terrible News" - Global Markets Crater On "Nu Variant" Panic

Black Friday Turns Red On "Terrible News" - Global Markets Crater On "Nu Variant" Panic The Friday after thanksgiving is called black Friday because that's when retailers finally turn profitable for the year. Not so much for market, however, because this morning it's red as far as the eye can see. The culprit: the same one we discussed late last night - the emergence of a new coronavirus strain detected in South Africa, known as B.1.1.529, which reportedly carries an "extremely high number" of mutations and is “clearly very different” from previous incarnations, which may drive further waves of disease by evading the body’s defenses according to South African scientists, and soon, Anthony Fauci. British authorities think it is the most significant variant to date and have hurried to impose travel restrictions on southern Africa, as did Japan, the Czech Republic and Italy on Friday. The European Union also said it aimed to halt air travel from the region. "Markets have been quite complacent about the pandemic for a while, partly because economies have been able to withstand the impact of selective lockdown measures. But we can see from the new emergency brakes on air travel that there will be ramifications for the price of oil," said Chris Scicluna, head of economic research at Daiwa. As a result, what was initially just a 1% drop in US index futures, has since escalated to a plunge of as much as 2% with eminis dropping the most since September, at one point dropping below 4,600 after closing on Wednesday above 4,700 as a post-Thanksgiving selloff spread across global markets amid mounting concerns the new B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant - which today will be officially called by the Greek lettter Nu - could derail the global economic recovery.  Russell 2000 contracts sank as much as 5.4%. Technology shares may be caught in the net too as Nasdaq 100 futures slid. The VIX increased as much as 9.4 vols to 28, it's biggest jump since January. It was last seen up 7.4 points, or the biggest increase since February. Adding to the pain, there is nothing on today's macro calendar and the US market closes early which will reduce already dismal liquidity even more, exacerbating some of the moves throughout the session. Headlines are likely to center on various nations preventing travel from South Africa whilst potentially imposing more stringent COVID measures domestically, as well as which countries "find" the Nu variant. Amid the panicked flight to safety, 10Y TSY yields tumbled as traders slashed bets on monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve (just hours after Goldman predicted that the Fed would double the pace of its taper and hike 3 times in 2022, oops) ... ... as did oil amid fears new covid lockdowns will lead to a collapse in crude demand (they will also certainly force OPEC+ to put on pause their plans to keep hiking output by 400K every month). Paradoxically, even cryptos are tumbling, which is surprising since even the dumbest algos should realize by now that a new covid outbreak means more dovish central banks, no tightening, and if nothing else, more QE and more liquidity which is precisely what cryptos need to break out to new all time highs. Cruise ship operator Carnival slumped 9.1% in premarket trading and Boeing slid 5.8% as travel companies tumbled worldwide. Stay-at-home stocks such as Zoom Video rallied.  Didi Global shares fell after Chinese regulators reportedly asked the ride-hailing giant to delist from U.S. bourses. Here are some of the other big premarket movers: Airlines and other travel stocks slumped in premarket trading on growing concern about a new Covid-19 variant identified in southern Africa. The European Union is proposing to halt air travel from several countries in the area and the U.K. will temporarily ban flights from the region. United Airlines (UAL US) fell 8.9%, Delta Air (DAL US) -7.9%, American Airlines (AAL US) -6.7%; cruiseline-operator Carnival (CCL US) -12%; hotelier Marriott (MAR US) -6.1%; lodging company Airbnb (ABNB US) -6.9%. Stay-at-home stocks that benefit from higher demand in lockdowns rose in premarket, with Zoom Video (ZM US) gaining 8.5% and fitness equipment group Peloton (PTON US) +4.7%. Vaccine stocks surged in premarket, while Pfizer and BioNTech got an added boost after their coronavirus shot won European Union backing for expanded use in children. Moderna (MRNA US) rose 8.8%, Novavax (NVAX US) +6.2%, Pfizer (PFE US) +5.1%, BioNTech (BNTX US) +6.4%. Small biotech stocks gained in premarket as investors sought havens. Ocugen (OCGN US) added 22%, Vir Biotechnology (VIR US) +7.8%, Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE US) +5%. Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks fell as Bitcoin dropped as investors dumped risk assets. Marathon Digital (MARA US) declined 9%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT US) -8.8%, Coinbase (COIN US) -4.6%. Didi Global (DIDI US) declined 6% in premarket after Chinese regulators were said to have asked the ride-hailing giant to delist from U.S. bourses. Selecta Biosciences (SELB US) dropped 13% in Wednesday’s postmarket ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving closure, after saying the U.S. FDA placed a clinical hold on a trial. Quotient Technology (QUOT US) gained 3.9% in Wednesday’s postmarket on news that a board member bought $150,000 of shares. What happens next will matter and so, all eyes are on the opening bell for the U.S. markets, set to return from the holiday for a shortened trading session. Tumbling futures and a soaring VIX signaled that the rout in Asia and Europe won’t spare New York equities, while lack of liquidity will only make the pain worse. The Japanese yen emerged as the main haven currency of the day, with the dollar languishing. “Every trader in New York will be rushing to the office now,” said Salm-Salm & Partner portfolio manager Frederik Hildner, adding that news of the new variant could mean the end of the inflation and tapering debate. The worsening pandemic poses a dilemma for central banks that are preparing to tighten monetary policy to curb elevated price pressures, according to Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. “It’s terrible news,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote, said in emailed comments. “The new Covid variant could hit the economic recovery, but this time, the central banks won’t have enough margin to act. They can’t fight inflation and boost growth at the same time. They have to choose.” “We now have a new Covid variant that’s ‘very’ different from the ones we knew so far, a rising inflation, and a market bubble,” she said.  “The only encouraging news is the easing oil prices, which could tame the inflationary pressures and give more time to the central banks before pulling back support.” In the meantime, the World Health Organization and scientists in South Africa were said to be working “at lightning speed” to ascertain how quickly the B.1.1.529 variant can spread and whether it’s resistant to vaccines. The new threat adds to the wall of worry investors are already contending with in the form of elevated inflation, monetary tightening and slowing growth. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index headed for the biggest drop in 13 months plunging 2.7%; travel and banking industries led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index down as much as 3.7%, the biggest intraday drop since June 2020. Airbus slumped 8.6% in Paris and British Airways owner IAG tumbled 12% in London, while food-delivery stocks gained.  Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Stay-at-home stocks and Covid testing firms such as TeamViewer and DiaSorin are among the biggest gainers as worries over a new Covid variant send the Stoxx 600 tumbling on lockdown fears TeamViewer and DiaSorin rise as much as 6% and 7%, respectively On the down side, travel and leisure stocks plunge, with the likes of IAG, Lufthansa and Carnival posting double- digit falls IAG drops as much as 21% Software AG shares rise as much as 9.5% after Bloomberg reported that the firm is exploring strategic options, including a potential sale, with Morgan Stanley saying the company’s biggest headwinds are behind it. Evolution gains as much as 4.6%, recouping part of Thursday’s 16% plunge, with Bank of America saying the share price’s “crazy time” amounts to a good buying opportunity. Skistar rises as much as 3.7%, bucking steep declines for travel and leisure stocks, after Handelsbanken upgraded the stock, saying bookings for the Scandinavian ski resort operator are “set to surge.” Telecom Italia climbs as much as 2.8% following a Bloomberg report that private equity firms KKR and CVC are considering teaming up on a bid for the company. ING Groep falls as much as 11% after Goldman Sachs analyst Jean-Francois Neuez cut his recommendation to neutral from buy. Getlink drops as much as 6% as French fishermen start protests aimed at stepping up pressure on the U.K. in a post-Brexit fishing dispute. Earlier in the session, MSCI's index of Asian shares outside Japan fell 2.2%, its sharpest drop since August. Casino and beverage shares were hammered in Hong Kong, while travel stocks dropped in Sydney and Tokyo. Japan's Nikkei skidded 2.5% and S&P 500 futures were last down 1.8%. Giles Coghlan, chief currency analyst at HYCM, a brokerage, said the closure of the U.S. market for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday had exacerbated moves. "We need to see how transmissible this variant is, is it able to evade the vaccines - this is crucial," Coghlan said. "I expect this story to drag on for a few days until scientists have a better understanding of it." Indian stocks plunged as the detection of a new coronavirus strain rattled investor sentiment globally, raising concerns over a likely setback to the nascent economic recovery.  The S&P BSE Sensex lost 2.9%, the most since mid-April, to 57,107.15 in Mumbai, taking its loss this week to 4.2%, the biggest weekly drop since January. The NSE Nifty 50 Index declined by a similar magnitude on Friday. Reliance Industries was the biggest drag on both measures and declined 3.2%.  “There is fear of this new variant spreading to other countries which might again derail the global economy,” said Hemang Jani, head of equity strategy at Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd.   Of the 30 shares in the Sensex index, 26 fell and 4 gained. All but one of 19 sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. retreated, led by a index of realty companies. The S&P BSE Healthcare index was the only sub-index to gain, surging 1.2%. While researchers are yet to determine whether the new virus variant is more transmissible or lethal than previous ones, authorities around the world have been quick to act. The European Union, U.K., Israel, and Singapore placed emergency curbs on passengers from South Africa and the surrounding region. Travel stocks were among the hardest hit. InterGlobe Aviation Ltd. fell 8.9%, Spicejet Ltd. slipped 6.7% and Indian Hotels Co. Ltd. plunged 11.2%, the most since March 2020.  “Nervousness on the new variant of coronavirus and expectations of the U.S. Fed increasing the pace of tapering have led to recent market weakness,” Amit Gupta, fund manager for portfolio management services at ICICI Securities Ltd. said. “This trend may take some time to recover as the WHO meeting on the new mutant variant impact and hospitalization rates in US and Europe will be watched by the market very closely.” Crude oil to emerging markets completed this picture of mayhem. In rates, fixed income was firmly bid as Treasuries extended their advance led by the belly of the curve, outperforming bunds, while money markets pared rate-hike bets amid fears that a new coronavirus strain may spread globally, slowing economic growth. Cash Treasuries outperformed, richening 12-14bps across the short end, with Thursday’s closure exacerbating the optics. As shown above, 10Y Treasury yields shed as much as 10 basis points while the Japanese yen jumped the most since investors’ March 2020 rush for safety. Yields across the curve are lower by more than 8bp at long end, 13bp-15bp out to the 7-year point, moves that if sustained would be the largest since at least March 2020 and in some cases since 2009. Short-term interest rate futures downgraded the odds of Fed rate increases. Gilts richened 10-11bps across the curve, outperforming bunds by 4-5bps. Peripheral and semi-core spreads widen. In FX, JPY and CHF top the G-10 scoreboard with havens typically bid. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed after earlier touching a fresh cycle high, and the greenback was mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers as the yen and the Swiss franc led gains while the Canadian dollar and Norwegian krone were the worst performers as commodity prices plunged. Traders pushed back the timing of a 25-basis-point rate increase by the Federal Reserve to July from June, with only one further hike expected for the remainder of 2022. It’s a similar story in the U.K. where the Bank of England is now expected to tighten policy in February instead of next month. Wagers that the ECB will raise its deposit rate by the end of next year have also been slashed, with only a six basis-point increase priced in, half of that seen earlier this week. The European Union is proposing to follow the U.K. in halting air travel from southern Africa after the new Covid-19 variant was identified there. The yen is at the epicenter of skyrocketing currency volatility as the new virus variant shakes markets. The cost of hedging against swings in the Japanese currency over the next week, which captures the release of the next U.S. payrolls report, is the most expensive in more than a year. In commodities, crude futures are hit hard. WTI drops over 7% before finding support near $73, Brent drops over 5% before recovering near $78. Spot gold grinds higher, adding $21 to trade near $1,809/oz. Base metals are sharply offered with much of the complex off as much as 3%. Looking at the otherwise quiet day ahead, data releases include French and Italian consumer confidence for November, as well as the Euro Area M3 money supply for October. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Visco, Schnabel, Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and BoE chief economist Pill. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.9% to 4,607.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 2.8% to 468.04 MXAP down 1.8% to 193.33 MXAPJ down 2.2% to 628.97 Nikkei down 2.5% to 28,751.62 Topix down 2.0% to 1,984.98 Hang Seng Index down 2.7% to 24,080.52 Shanghai Composite down 0.6% to 3,564.09 Sensex down 2.7% to 57,234.83 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.7% to 7,279.35 Kospi down 1.5% to 2,936.44 Brent Futures down 5.8% to $77.46/bbl Gold spot up 0.9% to $1,805.13 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.33% to 96.46 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.31% Euro up 0.4% to $1.1259 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The European Union is proposing to halt air travel from southern Africa over growing concern about a new Covid-19 variant that’s spreading there, as the U.K. said it will also temporarily ban flights from the region Those close to the Kremlin say the Russian president doesn’t want to start another war in Ukraine. Still, he must show he’s ready to fight if necessary in order to stop what he sees as an existential security threat: the creeping expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in a country that for centuries had been part of Russia Bitcoin tumbled 20% from record highs notched earlier this month as a new variant of the coronavirus spurred traders to dump risk assets across the globe Germany’s Greens tapped their two co- leaders to run the foreign ministry and take charge of an influential portfolio overseeing economy and climate protection in the country’s next government under Social Democrat Olaf Scholz A more detailed breakdown of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets declined and US equity futures were also on the backfoot on reopen from the prior day’s Thanksgiving lull with markets spooked by new COVID variant concerns related to the B.1.1.529 variant in South Africa that was first detected in Botswana. The new variant showed a high number of mutations and was said to be the most evolved strain ever which spurred fears it could be worse than Delta and is prompting both the UK and Israel to halt flights from several African nations. ASX 200 (-1.7%) was negative with heavy losses in energy and broad underperformance in cyclicals leading the downturn across all sectors, while the much better than expected Australian Retail Sales data was largely ignored. Nikkei 225 (-2.5%) underperformed and gave up the 29k status as selling was exacerbated by detrimental currency inflows and with SoftBank shares among the worst hit on reports that China is said to have asked Didi to delist from US exchanges on security fears, which doesn't bode well for SoftBank given that its Vision Fund is the top shareholder in the Chinese ride hailing group with a stake of more than 20%. Hang Seng (-2.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.7%) conformed to the risk aversion with the mood not helped by ongoing geopolitical concerns after a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson noted they are ready to crush Taiwan independence bid "at any time”, while China also said it opposes US sanctions on its companies and will take all necessary measures to firmly defend the rights of Chinese companies. Beijing interference further contributed to the headwinds amid the request by China for Didi to delist from US which reports stated regulators could backtrack on and with Tencent subdued after some Chinese state-run companies restricted the use of Tencent's messaging app. Top Asian News Stocks in Asia Set for Worst Day Since March on Virus Woes Mizuho CEO Steps Down After Regulator Hit on System Issues Meituan 3Q Revenue Meets Estimates Japan’s Kishida Delivers $316 billion Extra Budget for Recovery European equities are trading markedly lower (Stoxx 600 -2.9%) with losses in the Stoxx 600 extending to 3.8% WTD. Sentiment throughout the week has been hampered by various lockdown measures imposed across the region with the latest leg lower accelerated by new COVID variant concerns related to the B.1.1.529 variant in South Africa. The new variant has shown a high number of mutations and is said to be the most evolved strain so far. This has spurred fears it could be worse than Delta and has prompted multiple nations to halt flights from several African nations.The handover from the overnight session was an equally downbeat one with the Nikkei 225 (-2.5%) dealt a hammer blow by the risk environment and unfavourable currency flows. Stateside, futures are lower across the board with the RTY the clear laggard with losses of 4.2% compared to the ES -1.8%, whilst the tech-heavy NQ is faring better than peers but ultimately still lower on the session to the tune of 1.6%. Note, early closures in the US and subsequent liquidity conditions could exacerbate some of the moves throughout the session. With the macro calendar light, focus for the session is likely to centre on various nations preventing travel from South Africa whilst potentially imposing more stringent COVID measures domestically. Any further clarity on the spread of the variant and its potential to evade vaccines will be of great interest to the market and likely be the main driving force of price action today. Sectors in Europe are lower across the board with the Stoxx 600 Banking (-5.1%) sector bottom of the pile amid the declines seen in global bond yields as markets scale back expectations of central bank tightening (e.g. pricing now assigns a 63% chance of a 15bps hike by the BoE next month vs. 93% a week ago). Oil & Gas names (-4.8%) are suffering on account of the declines in the crude space with WTI crude in freefall with losses of 6.7% given the potential impact of travel restrictions on demand. Travel restrictions on South Africa (from UK, Israel, EU et al) and the potential for further announcements has crushed the Travel & Leisure sector (-5.7%) with airline names dealt a hammer blow; IAG (-13.5%), easyJet (-11%), Deutsche Lufthansa (-12%), Air France (-9.5%). Elsewhere, there are a whole raft of other laggards which are very much in-fitting with the March 2020 playbook but there are simply too many to list for the purpose of this report. Defensives and Tech are faring better than peers but ultimately still lower on the session to the tune of 1% and 1.9% respectively. Finally, for anyone wanting some positivity from today’s session, the potential for further lockdowns has proved to be beneficial for the likes of HelloFresh (+3.2%), Ocado (+2.1%) and Delivery Hero (+1.9%). Top European News Airlines Skid on South Africa Travel Bans Tied to Variant German Coalition Proposes a Combustion-Car Ban Without Saying So Putin Pushes Confrontation With NATO as Hardliners Prevail Siemens Is Said to Kick Off Sale of Postal Logistics Business In FX, the index has been under pressure in the risk-averse environment amid a slump in yields and gains in its basket components – namely the JPY, CHF, EUR (see below) – and with liquidity also thinned by Thanksgiving. From a technical perspective, the index has declined from its 96.787 overnight high, through the 96.500 mark, to a low of 96.332 – with the weekly trough at 96.035. Ahead, the US calendar is once again light, with the US also poised for an early Thanksgiving closure; thus, impulses will likely be derived from the macro environment. JPY, CHF, EUR - Haven FX JPY and CHF are the clear outperformers as a function of risk-related inflows. USD/JPY has retreated from a 115.37 peak and fell through its 21 DMA (114.15) to a base around 113.66 - with the current weekly low around 113.64. USD/CHF retreated from 0.9360 to 0.9260 – with the 50 and 100 DMAs seen at 0.9234 and 0.9219, respectively, ahead of 0.9200. EUR/USD meanwhile gains on what is seemingly an unwind of the carry trade amid a spike in volatility. EUR/USD found support near 1.1200 before rebounding to a current 1.1288 peak. AUD, NZD, CAD, GBP - The non-US Dollar risk currencies bear the brunt of the latest market downturn, with losses across industrial commodities not helping. The Loonie has taken the spot as the biggest G10 loser as hefty COVID-induced losses in the oil complex keep the currency suppressed. USD/CAD trades towards the top of a current 1.2647-2774 range. AUD is also weighed on by softer base metal prices – AUD/USD fell from a 0.7200 overnight high to a current low at 0.7110. On that note, Westpac sees AUD/USD pushed down to 0.7000 by Jun 2022 (prev. 0.7700) amid rate differentials with the US; Westpac made significant changes to its FOMC policy forecast and now expect consecutive increases in the fed funds rate in Jun, Sept, and Dec 2022. NZD/USD is slightly more cushioned amid smaller exposure to commodities, and as the AUD/NZD cross takes aim at 1.0450 to the downside. GBP, meanwhile, was initially among the losers amid its high-beta status but thereafter nursed losses in a move that coincided with EUR/GBP rejecting an upside breach of its 21 DMA at 0.8475. EM - The ZAR is the standout laggard given the new South African COVID variant - B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant (expected to be named Nu) – which is said to be the most evolved strain so far and thus prompted several countries to halt travel to the country of origin. USD/ZAR currently trades within a 15.9375-16.3630 intraday band. Meanwhile, the downturn oil sees USD/RUB north of 75.00 and closer to 76.00 from a 74.2690 base. The Lira also feels some contagion despite the lower oil prices (Turkey being a large net oil importer) – USD/TRY is back on a 12.00 handle and within 11.92-1226 parameters at the time of writing. In commodities, the crude complex has been hit by compounding COVID fears which in turn triggered various travel restrictions and subsequently took its toll on global crude demand prospects. The new and more evolved South African variant prompted the UK, Singapore, and Israel to expand their travel red lists to include some African nations (Israel reported its first case of the new COVID-19 variant known as B.1.1.529). Japan also imposed tighter border restrictions. China’s Shanghai city see flights impacted by its own outbreak. Europe also tackles its surge in daily cases - German Green Party's Baerbock (incoming Foreign Minister) does not rule out a German lockdown, according to Spiegel. EU Commission President von der Leyen is also to propose activation of the emergency air brake, to halt travel from southern Africa due to the B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant. Losses in oil have exacerbated - with WTI Jan and Brent Feb now under USD 74/bbl (vs high 78.65/bbl) and USD 77/bbl (vs high 80.42/bbl), -6.0% and -5.0% respectively. This comes ahead of the OPEC+ confab next week, whereby OPEC watchers have suggested that oil prices will be a large contributor to the final decision. It is difficult to see how OPEC+ will increase output to the levels the US et al. will be content with, with the latest COVID downturn building the case for a pause in planned output hikes. Elsewhere, haven demand sees spot gold extend on gains above USD 1,800/oz after topping the 100 DMA (1,792.95/oz), 200 DMA (1,791.38/oz), 50 DMA (1,790.13/oz) overnight. Base metals are softer across the board amid the risk aversion. LME copper posts losses of around 3% at the time of writing, as prices threaten a more convincing downside breach of USD 9,500/t. US Event Calendar Nothing major scheduled DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Things have escalated on the covid front quite rapidly over the last 12 hours. Yesterday new covid variant B.1.1.529 was slowly starting to gather increasing attention but overnight it has begun to dominate markets and has caused a notable flight to quality with 10 year USTs -8bps lower. It was originally identified in Botswana and is starting to spread rapidly in Africa. The South African Health Minister has said it is "of serious concern". Almost 100 cases have already been identified in South Africa and the UK moved to put the country back (along with 5 other African nations) on a reinstated red travel list last night with others following this morning. The variant is said to be the most heavily mutated version yet and the WHO will meet today to decide if it is a variant of interest or a variant of concern. So a lot of eyes will be on how severe it is and whether it completely evades vaccines. At this stage very little is known. Mutations are often less severe so we shouldn’t jump to conclusions but there is clearly a lot of concern about this one. Also South Africa is one of the world leaders in sequencing so we are more likely to see this sort of news originate from there than many countries. Suffice to say at this stage no one in markets will have any idea which way this will go. Overnight in Asia all benchmarks are trading lower on the news with the Shanghai Composite (-0.50%), CSI (-0.64%), KOSPI (-1.27%), Hang Seng (-2.13%) and the Nikkei (-2.90%) all lower. Airlines and other travel stocks have obviously fallen heavily. Hong Kong has detected two confirmed cases of the new variant just as Hong Kong and China were considering quarantine-free travel. S&P 500 (-0.93%) and DAX (-1.82%) futures are also much weaker. Elsewhere, in Japan, CPI rose +0.5% year-on-year (+0.4% consensus and +0.1% previously), on the back of 16-month high fuel prices. With the US out on holiday for Thanksgiving, there wasn’t much going on yesterday after a very quiet day in markets. The variant news was only slowly creeping into the news flow so it hardly impacted trading. But in keeping with the theme of recent days, both inflation and the latest covid wave in Europe remained very much in the picture as jitters continue to increase that we could see further lockdowns as we move towards Christmas. Starting with the headline moves, European equities did actually show signs of stabilising yesterday, with the STOXX 600 up +0.42% thanks to a broad-based advance across the continent. In fact that’s actually the index’s best daily performance in over three weeks, although that’s not reflecting any particular strength, but instead the fact the index inched steadily but persistently towards a record high before selling off again a week ago. Other indices moved higher across the continent too, with the FTSE 100 (+0.33%), the CAC 40 (+0.48%) and the DAX (+0.25%) all posting similar advances. These will all likely reverse this morning. One piece of news we did get came from the ECB, who released the account of their monetary policy meeting for October. Something the minutes stressed was the importance that the Governing Council maintain optionality in their policy settings, with one part acknowledging the growing upside risks to inflation, but also saying “it was deemed important for the Governing Council to avoid an overreaction as well as unwarranted inaction, and to keep sufficient optionality in calibrating its monetary policy measures to address all inflation scenarios that might unfold.” Against this backdrop, 10yr bond yields moved lower across multiple countries, with those on bunds (-2.3ps), OATs (-2.3bps) and BTPs (-1.9bps) all declining. There was also a flattening in all 3 yield curves as well, with the 2s10s slope in Germany (-3.0bps), France (-3.7bps) and Italy (-2.8bps) shifting lower. And the moves also coincided with a continued widening in peripheral spreads, with both the Spanish and the Greek spreads over 10yr bund yields widening to their biggest levels in over a year. Of course, one of the biggest concerns in Europe right now remains the pandemic, and yesterday saw a number of fresh measures announced as policymakers seek to get a grip on the latest wave. In France, health minister Veran announced various measures, including the expansion of the booster rollout to all adults, and a reduction in the length of time between the initial vaccination and the booster shot to 5 months from 6. Meanwhile in the Czech Republic, the government declared a state of emergency and approved tighter social distancing measures, including the closure of restaurants and bars at 10pm. And in Finland, the government have said that bars and restaurants not using Covid certificates will not be able to serve alcohol after 5pm. All this came as the European Medicines Agency recommended that the Pfizer vaccine be approved for children aged 5-11, which follows the decision to approve the vaccine in the US. Their recommendation will now go to the European Commission for a final decision. There wasn’t much in the way of data at all yesterday, though German GDP growth in Q3 was revised down to show a +1.7% expansion (vs. +1.8% previous estimate). Looking at the details, private consumption was the only driver of growth (+6.2%), with government consumption (-2.2%), machinery and equipment (-3.7%) and construction (-2.3%) all declining over the quarter. To the day ahead now, and data releases include French and Italian consumer confidence for November, as well as the Euro Area M3 money supply for October. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Visco, Schnabel, Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and BoE chief economist Pill. Tyler Durden Fri, 11/26/2021 - 08:12.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 26th, 2021

The 4 best drip coffee makers for a perfect cup of coffee in 2021

Drip coffee machines range from basic brewers with an on/off function to programmable, all-in-one appliances. Here are the best coffee makers of 2021. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.Dylan Ettinger/Business Insider There are many excellent choices for high-quality electric coffee makers on the market today. Using my decade of coffee industry experience, I tested 8 machines to determine which performed best. Café Specialty's Drip Coffee Maker produced the best-tasting coffee and is easy to use. Electric drip coffee makers provide the quickest, easiest way to brew coffee. But can a coffee maker help you achieve the same great cup of coffee that you can get from your favorite cafe? As it turns out, yes.Automatic coffee makers have come a long way in the past few years. As appreciation of specialty coffee in the United States has grown significantly, manufacturers of coffee makers have outfitted their products with a variety of new features, many of which are designed to emulate facets of manually brewing pour-over coffee. For example, many modern machines come equipped with a pre-infusion cycle that allows the coffee to bloom, fully-customizable temperature controls, and settings that allow you to choose your preferred brewing strength. Whether you want a coffee maker that's straightforward and simple, one that allows you to make a wide variety of drinks, or one that gives you precise control, you'll find it in this buying guide.Here are the best coffee makers in 2021:Best drip coffee maker overall: Café Specialty Drip Coffee MakerBest budget drip coffee maker: Kitchenaid 12 Cup Drip Coffee MakerBest drip coffee maker for specialty drinks: Ninja Specialty Coffee MakerBest precision drip coffee maker: Breville Precision BrewerBest coffee maker overallDylan Ettinger/Business InsiderCapacity: 10 CupsFilter type: Reusable meshDimensions: Height: 14 in, Width: 7.3 in, Length: 12.5 inSpecial features: Temperature control, Wifi control via mobile phone appSCA certified: YesPros: High build quality, easy to use, consistent performance.Cons: Expensive when compared to competitors. The sleek Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker looks simple, but it delivers when it comes to performance. It's made primarily of stainless steel with a matte black finish, copper accents, a reusable titanium plated filter, and a vacuum sealed thermal carafe.The water reservoir holds up to 10 cups, and is outfitted with a carbon filter to ensure that any excess minerals in the water don't make it into the coffee. It also offers a temperature control option, an auto brew setting, and wifi connectivity that allows you to control the brewer remotely with a phone app. I found the controls for all these features to be intuitive and easy to use.Most importantly, this SCA certified machine (more on what that designation means here) produces some of the best coffee I tried in my tests. There are options available to brew at multiple degrees of strength, "Gold," "Light," "Medium," and "Bold," with "Gold" being the recommended setting. I tried coffee made at multiple settings and all were good, with the "Gold" and "Bold" having a more well-rounded, full flavor and a slightly heavier body. I was able to taste all the chocolate and fruit notes of the flavor profile in every cup. What makes this coffee maker the best I tested is its combination of simplicity and customizability. It's also extremely consistent — every cup of coffee brewed at every setting tasted just like it should. The only downside with this machine is the high price tag, but if you're willing to invest in a top-tier appliance, the Café Specialty won't let you down.$349.95 FROM WILLIAMS SONOMA$279.00 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $349.99 | Save 20%Best budget drip coffee makerDylan Ettinger/Business InsiderCapacity: 12 CupsFilter type: ReusableDimensions: Height: 14.34 in, Width: 7.17 in, Length: 13.4 inSpecial features: "Dosage Ladder" for easy measuringSCA certified: NoPros: High capacity, multiple options for brew strengthCons: Mostly plastic construction, fewer options than similar modelsThe unfortunate truth is that a high-quality, reliable coffee maker is not going to be cheap. At $99.99, this Kitchenaid 12 Cup Drip Coffee Maker isn't "budget" for most, but this is about the minimum amount you will have to spend on a high-performance machine. The Kitchenaid has many of the same features as our favorite, the Café Specialty, but at less than a third of the price. This coffee maker is built mostly of sturdy plastic, with a glass carafe kept warm with a heating plate. With a 12 cup capacity, it's also one of the largest we tested. It comes with a reusable filter fitted with a convenient "dosage ladder" that matches the volume of ground coffee with the desired amount of water. It's very easy to use and the controls are intuitive, allowing for a "Bold" brewing option, a timed auto brew feature and a cleaning cycle.The coffee the Kitchenaid 12 Cup produced on the normal settings was well extracted and full-flavored, which was impressive considering that it's one of the simpler machines we tested. Using the "Bold" setting made an even better cup. It was much richer with a heavier mouth feel and still maintained all of the beans' chocolatey notes. It may lack a few of the extra features of other coffee makers, but the Kitchenaid delivers delicious results at a fraction of the price.$99.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $109.99 | Save 9%$99.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $109.99 | Save 9%$99.99 FROM KITCHENAIDOriginally $109.99 | Save 9%Best drip coffee maker for specialty drinksDylan Ettinger/Business InsiderCapacity: 10 CupsFilter type: Reusable and paperDimensions: Height: 15 in, Width: 8.8 in, Length: 12.5 inSpecial features: Milk frother, "Specialty" setting, iced coffee settingSCA certified: YesPros: "Specialty" brew setting and milk frother can be used to make espresso-style drinks, wide variety of brewing options.Cons: Lower build quality, mostly made of plastic.If you're looking for versatility in a coffee maker, the Ninja Specialty is the one to get. It can be operated with either a reusable filter or a paper filter. It also has a wide selection of brew sizes, from a single serving cup all the way to a full 18-ounce carafe. If you choose the former, there's a retractable platform that can hold a mug — an addition I found to be incredibly useful.Every setting is easily selected with a dial and light-up icons, along with clearly marked buttons on the face of the coffee maker. But the Ninja's most unique feature is the built-in electric milk frother, which is attached to an arm that folds out from the machine's side. This coffee maker offers multiple brew styles like "Classic," "Rich," "Over Ice," and "Specialty." Every cup I tried on both "Classic," and "Rich" settings was full-bodied and flavorful. What really sets the Ninja apart from the other machines I tested is its "Specialty" brewing feature, which produces a concentrated, 4-ounce pour of coffee. It's not quite as dense as espresso, and doesn't have crema, but I found the taste to be surprisingly similar. The "Specialty" setting paired with the built-in milk frother gives you the option to make specialty drinks like lattes. Again, it's not the same as using an espresso machine — the brewing process is completely different — but I was satisfied with my faux lattes. With a little practice I'm sure cappuccinos, cortados and flavored drinks such as mochas could also be in the rotation.$119.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $169.99 | Save 29%$119.99 FROM BED BATH & BEYONDOriginally $169.99 | Save 29%$119.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $169.99 | Save 29%Best precision drip coffee makerDylan Ettinger/Business InsiderCapacity: 12 CupsFilter type: Reusable and paperDimensions: Height: 15.7 in, Width: 6.7 in, Length: 12.4 inSpecial features: High degree of customizabilitySCA certified: YesPros: Highly customizable brewing variables, high-quality build, mostly stainless steel.Cons: Precision brewing options really most useful for more experienced coffee drinkers.The Breville Precision Brewer offers unmatched control over every variable in the brewing process. It's primarily made of stainless steel with a clear plastic reservoir. The brew basket is detachable, and you can use reusable or paper filters. With a 12 cup capacity, the Breville is perfect for making large batches of coffee, but it performs well at lower volumes as well. Most of the customization is done using the small, back-lit display screen and a single dial. The screen is easy to read and the menus are simple to navigate. When it comes to brewing, the Breville offers multiple preset brewing modes; "Fast," "Gold," (the recommended setting) and "Strong". It also offers presets for making both iced coffee and cold brew. And there's an attachment available that lets you swap out the brew basket with a pourover device like a Hario V60 or Kalita Wave. For my tests, I first tried brewing a pot of coffee with the SCA recommended "Gold" setting and followed that up with the "Strong" setting. The coffee I made on both the "Gold" and "Strong" presets was fully extracted and full-flavored, with the second cup a bit darker and more robust. Beyond these presets, the thing that really sets this brewer apart is the customization available in the "My Brew" setting, which allows users to modify almost every major variable in the brewing process — including the bloom time, water temperature, and water flow rate — and then save those settings for future use. If you're looking for a coffee maker to just get the job done there are simpler and more affordable options. But for the coffee aficionado who wants complete control of the brewing process, the Breville is the best maker you can get right now.$299.95 FROM WILLIAMS SONOMA$299.95 FROM BREVILLEWhat else we consideredDylan Ettinger/Business InsiderCuisinart PurePrecision Pour-Over Thermal Coffee BrewerThis coffee maker is the clear runner-up for the overall best. The Cuisinart PurePrecision is made primarily of stainless steel with a thermal carafe, uses a reusable metal filter, and has an 8 cup capacity. It's advertised as an automated alternative to a pour-over cone, using a pre-infusion cycle, variable water temperature and brew styles to give the user more control. The coffee it makes tasted great, especially when using the "Bold" setting. If the Cafe Specialty or Breville Precision are out of your price range, this is an excellent alternative.Ninja Dualbrew ProThe Ninja Dualbrew Pro offers all the same features and brewing options as the Ninja Specialty, with the addition of an attachment that allows the user to brew coffee from pods. As far as performance is concerned, the Dualbrew Pro performed very similarly to the Ninja Specialty in my tests. The only notable drawback is the lack of a reusable filter basket with the Dualbrew Pro. Switching between the pod brewing and standard brewing functions was a little awkward , and regardless of which setting you use, there will be either a loose plastic cone or pod brewing attachment. Unless you really want the option to use coffee pods, I recommend opting for the Ninja Specialty Brewer instead.Mr. Coffee Pod + 10-CupThe Mr Coffee is another machine that provides the option of brewing coffee pods as well as ground coffee. It has most of the standard features the other coffee makers here have, like a timed auto brew function and a variable "Strong" setting. It requires paper filters which are not included, and offers a water filter that fits into the water tank. The coffee made on the "Strong" setting was significantly better than the standard cup, which seemed slightly under extracted and weak. One positive feature here is that the manufacturers provide a reusable pod that allows you to use your own fresh coffee. The overall performance of this maker doesn't warrant recommending it over any of the others. Unless having a coffee maker that brews both pods and normal ground coffee is appealing, I'd recommend the Kitchenaid or Cuisinart PurePrecision over this one.OXO 8-Cup Coffee MakerThe OXO coffee maker has a good build quality, but lacks many features standard on other products. There's no option for brewing strength and no ability to control water temperature. Because of its lack of features and trouble maintaining temperature, I have a hard time recommending this maker over others I tested. The coffee it produced was acceptable, and it performed well, but at this price point you're better off choosing the Ninja Specialty or the Cuisinart PurePrecision.Our drip coffee maker testing methodologyDylan Ettinger/Business InsiderI have around a decade's worth of experience in the specialty coffee industry. Before testing and reviewing coffee products I worked as a barista, helped open a cafe, and worked behind the scenes in packaging and distribution. For additional expertise, I spoke with Max Gaultieri, barista, roaster and founder of Joules and Watts coffee in Malibu California, and Jessica Rodriguez, who heads the Certified Home Brewer program at the SCA. The coffee makers in this guide were thoroughly tested based on the following objective criteria:Build quality: While testing, I paid attention to the quality of the build, most notably what each coffee maker was primarily made of, (stainless steel, plastic, glass, etc.) I also noted which type of carafe each used and whether they were thermal or glass kept warm with a heating plate.Brewing capacity: For this criteria, I simply noted the maximum brewing capacity for each coffee maker. The machines I tested ranged from 8 to 12 cups of brewing capacityEase of setup and use: To test this, I followed the manufacturer's instructions for setup and operation for each coffee maker. During the setup, I paid close attention to how easy each coffee maker was to set up and use and whether there were any awkward controls or components on each machine.Type of filtration: Each coffee maker uses either a reusable filter (usually plastic mesh or stainless steel,) paper filters, or has the ability to use either.  Customizability: Most of the coffee makers I tested had multiple options to customize the brewing process. Some offered a simple choice between a standard brewing option and a "rich" or "strong" option. Some coffee makers, like the Breville, offered a much higher degree of customizability over brewing variables. For each coffee maker I began by using the recommended brewing preset, usually referred to as the "Medium," "Standard," and "Normal" settings. I then did a second test, again following manufacturer guidelines for any coffee maker that offered a "Strong" or "Bold" option, and tested how each cup tasted compared to the "Standard" settings. Most importantly, I wanted to make sure both of these options with every coffee maker were extracted properly and were not under or over developed.Consistency and flavor of coffee: Taste is ultimately subjective, so I looked primarily at whether each brewer produced consistent results. After testing with manufacturer recommended ratios, I used SCA standards to see if each brewer met expectations for each brewing variable. I pre-measured the coffee and water at the recommended ratio of 1 part coffee to 18 parts water. I used the recommended ratio of coffee to water to make a batch of 8 cups of coffee (8 cups is the maximum batch size that all the coffee makers had in common).  I used a kitchen scale and measured both the coffee and water in grams. I used 60.4 grams of ground coffee to 1088 grams (8 cups) of water. For each test, I timed how long the brewing cycle lasted. I also tested the water temperature in the brew basket after one minute of brewing time, in order to see how close the heating element was able to heat the water to the desired range of 195° - 205°F, and to find out roughly how long it stayed at the desired temperature. I again used the "Standard" option. Once finished, I noted the flavor of each cup and how well it was extracted.Additional features: After testing each coffee maker three times, I went back and tested the common special features or settings of each coffee maker. Some makers had additional brew settings set up for single-cup brewing, concentrated brewing or for making iced coffee. Others had built-in milk frothers. For this test, I looked at how easy each feature was to use and how effective they were in achieving their stated goal.To test these coffee makers I made sure to control as many variables as possible between each test. For each maker I used the Peru Eufemio Dominguez Aguilar Cajamarca from Joules and Watts coffee roasters in Malibu, California. The roast was recommended by Max Gaultieri, Joules and Watts founder and roaster, for it's balanced flavor profile with notes of chocolate cake and blackberry. The coffee was ground fresh at a medium coarseness with a Capresso Infinity conical burr grinder. The water used in each test was tap water filtered by a standard Brita filtration pitcher. Each coffee maker was tested a minimum of three times.Drip coffee maker FAQsHow do I make the perfect cup of coffee in a coffee maker?The best way to make perfect coffee is by making sure your coffee-to-water ratio is correct. You can always follow the manufacturer's instructions, and your ratio might change depending on how strong you want your coffee, but the SCA recommends a coffee to water ratio of 1:18. To get to know your machine, Max Gualtieri recommends you start with "15:1 and adjust up or down to your preference. For example, if you are using 30 grams of coffee you'll use 450 grams of water." What kind of coffee goes in a coffee maker?Any coffee can work in a coffee maker, but there are a few factors to look for that will ensure the best results. First, make sure your coffee is fresh. Most roasters print the roast date on every bag of coffee. Try to find a coffee roasted less than two weeks before you want to brew. Second, if you can, grind your coffee just before brewing. "Optimally, freshly roasted and freshly ground coffee goes into the coffee maker. Yes, grinding is an extra step and yes, it is completely worth it," Gaultieri says.Do fresh grounds in coffee makers really make a difference?"Always!" Gaultieri says. After roasting, all of the flavorful oils and sugars start to decay and the gasses inside the coffee beans leak out, creating a more dull and stale flavor. Pre-grinding your coffee long before brewing amplifies that effect. "The coffee starts to lose volatile aromatic compounds as soon as it is ground," says Gaultieri. By breaking up the beans and releasing more of the gasses and exposing the organic compounds and oils to the air, it spoils even more quickly.What variables affect the coffee brewing process?No matter how you're making your coffee, the same variables always contribute to the quality of the cup you're making. The choice of coffee, grind coarseness, water temperature, coffee-to-water ratio, brewing time and filtration method all contribute heavily to how your coffee is going to turn out. Different brewing methods require adjusting the specifics of those variables, but the most important factor is always going to be the coffee you use. "Start with quality coffee!" Gualtieri says. Make sure it's freshly roasted and freshly ground.Why is water temperature so important for brewing coffee?Water temperature has a huge effect on the coffee brewing process. Brewing at the proper temperature (195° - 205°F, 90° - 96°C) ensures that the proper amount of coffee solubles are extracted. What is blooming and why is it important?Blooming is a commonly recommended step in the brewing process when making pour over coffee. Blooming, or pre-infusing, is when a small amount of hot water is used to soak the beans in order to help release the carbon dioxide gas in the coffee. Without blooming, the CO2 bubbles released can disrupt the overall brewing process by making the ground bed uneven and lead to an uneven extraction. Many coffee makers now utilize a programmed pre-infusion process to help create a more evenly extracted and full-flavored cup of coffee.Why should I buy an electric coffee maker?Electric coffee makers may seem overly complicated and expensive when compared to manual brewing devices like the French press, or a pour-over. Electric coffee makers excel when it comes to consistency. "Both methods use the same variables to extract coffee. One difference with electric coffee makers is there isn't the human variable," Rodriguez says, "A coffee machine is programmed to do the same thing every time it is turned on, and if it is a good machine, it will do this very consistently." Electric coffee makers also often have features such as timed brewing, which can save time in the morning if your schedule is tight.Should I choose a thermal carafe or warming plate?Coffee makers often have either thermal carafes or warming plates to keep coffee warm after it's brewed. But Jessica Rodriguez warns, "The heating plate is sometimes overlooked as an element that can affect flavor. If a brewer has a heating plate to keep the carafe warm, it is really important that the plate does not raise the temperature of the brew, which can have a negative impact on the flavor." In my testing, I found that most coffee makers with thermal carafes do a great job of maintaining the temperature of the coffee for about an hour.What kind of filters should I use?Different coffee makers use different methods of filtration. The most common are reusable metal or mesh filters and single-use paper filters. Some makers even allow the user to choose between the two. The major difference between filtration types is how much of the dissolved coffee solids and oils they allow to pass through. "Filtration affects the beverage clarity which affects the body/mouthfeel sensory experience of coffee." Rodriguez says. Reusable filters have the added bonus of producing less waste and cutting long-term costs.What sets an SCA certified home brewer apart from other coffee makers?The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has a program that rigorously tests coffee makers and certifies the ones that perform to their standards. As Jessica Rodriguez, Certifications Program Manager at the SCA explains, "Multiple production units are submitted and tested at 1L and full capacity for adequate brew basket space to hold the SCA Golden Cup ratio of 55g/L, that they can reach and maintain a brewing temperature of 92 – 96C, the total water contact time falls between 4 – 8 minutes, the total dissolved solids of each brew falls between 1.15% - 1.45% and is consistent from extraction to extraction, and that there is good beverage clarity. Submitted brewers are also subjected to a uniformity of extraction test procedure that analyzes the spent coffee bed for the evenness of extraction." Basically, any SCA certified brewer is proven to produce high-quality, consistent cups of coffee.The best drip coffee maker deals from this guideA good cup of coffee starts with good beans and, of course, a good coffee maker. Our recommended drip coffee makers come in a range of prices, but the best ones seldom go on sale. If you're looking for the best times to shop,  try Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day — they're all pretty reliable occasions for good coffee maker deals. During Black Friday last year, we saw our best overall pick, the Cuisinart Coffee Plus, discounted by a rare $30.Here, we've gathered up the best deals available on our expert-recommended machines:Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker$279.00 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $349.99 | Save 20%$349.95 FROM WILLIAMS SONOMAKitchenAid 12 Cup Drip Coffee Maker$99.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $109.99 | Save 9%$99.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $109.99 | Save 9%$99.99 FROM KITCHENAIDOriginally $109.99 | Save 9%Ninja CM401 Specialty Coffee Maker$119.99 FROM AMAZONOriginally $169.99 | Save 29%$119.99 FROM BED BATH & BEYONDOriginally $169.99 | Save 29%$119.99 FROM BEST BUYOriginally $169.99 | Save 29%Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.Check out our other great coffee guidesBialettiThe best espresso machinesThe best french pressesThe best stovetop espresso makersThe best coffee grindersRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 22nd, 2021

Transcript: Edwin Conway

   The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Edwin Conway, BlackRock Alternative Investors, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS:… Read More The post Transcript: Edwin Conway appeared first on The Big Picture.    The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Edwin Conway, BlackRock Alternative Investors, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, man, I have an extra special guest. Edwin Conway runs all of alternatives for BlackRocks. His title is Global Head of Alternative Investors and he covers everything from structured credit to real estate hedge funds to you name it. The group runs over $300 billion and he has been a driving force into making this a substantial portion of Blackrock’s $9 trillion in total assets. The opportunity set that exists for alternatives even for a firm like Blackrock that specializes in public markets is potentially huge and Blackrock wants a big piece of it. I found this conversation to be absolutely fascinating and I think you will also. So with no further ado, my conversation with Blackrock’s Head of Alternatives, Edwin Conway. MALE VOICEOVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is Edwin Conway. He is the Global Head of Blackrock’s Alternative Investors which runs about $300 billion in assets. He is a team of over 1,100 professionals to help him manage those assets. Blackrock’s Global alternatives include businesses that cover real estate infrastructure, hedge funds private equity, and credit. He is a senior managing director for BlackRock. Edwin Conway, welcome to Bloomberg. EDWIN CONWAY, GLOBAL HEAD OF ALTERNATIVE INVESTORS, BLACKROCK: Barry, thank you for having me. RITHOLTZ: So, you’ve been in the financial services industry for a long time. You were at Credit Suisse and Blackstone and now you’re at BlackRock. Tell us what the process was like breaking into the industry? CONWAY: It’s an interesting on, Barry. I grew up in a very small town in the middle of Ireland. And the breakthrough to the industry was one of more coincident as opposed to purpose. I enjoyed the game of rugby for many years and through an introduction while at the University, in University College Dublin in Ireland, had a chance to play rugby at a quite a – quite a decent level and get to know people that were across the industry. It was really through and internship and the suggestion, I’ve given my focus on business and financing things that the financial services sector may be a great place to traverse and get to know. And literally through rugby connections, been part of a good school, I had an opportunity to really understand what the service sector, in many respects, could provide to clients and became absolutely intrigued with it. And what – was it my primary ambition in life to be in the financial services sector? I can definitively say no, but through the circumstance of a game that I love to play and be part of, I was introduced to, through an internship, and actually fell in love with it. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. And alternative investments at Blackrock almost seems like a contradiction in terms. Most of us tend to think of Blackrock as the giant $9 trillion public markets firm best known for ETFs and indices. Alternatives seems to be one of the fastest-growing groups within the firm. This was $50 billion just a few years ago, it’s now over 300 billion. How has this become such a fast-growing part of BlackRock? CONWAY: When you look at the various facets which you introduced at the start, Barry, we’ve actually been an alternatives – will be of 30 years now. Now, the scale, as you know, which you can operate on the beta side of business, far surpasses that on the alpha side. For us, throughout the years, this was very much about how can we deliver investment excellence to our clients and performance? Therefore, going an opportunity somewhere else to explore an alpha opportunity in alternatives. And I think being so connected to our clients understanding, that this pivots was absolutely taking place at only 30 years ago but in a very pronounced way today, you know, we continue to invest in this business to support those ambitions. They’re clearly seeing this as the world of going through a tremendous amount of transformation and with some of the challenges, quite frankly, in the traditional asset classes, being able to leverage at BlackRock, the Blackrock muscle to really explore these alpha opportunities across the various alternative asset classes that in our mind wasn’t imperative. And the imperative, really, is from the firm’s perspective and if you look at our purpose, it’s to serve the client. So the need was coming from them. The necessity to have alternatives and their whole portfolio was very – was very much growing in prominence. And it’s taken us 30 years to build this journey and I think, Barry, quite frankly, we’re far from being done. As you look at the industry, the demand is going to continue to grow. So, I think you could expect to see from us a continued investment in the space because we don’t believe you can live without alternatives in today’s world. RITHOLTZ: That’s really – that’s really interesting. So let’s dive a little deeper into the product strategy for alternatives which you are responsible for at BlackRock. Our audiences is filled with potential investors. Tell them a little bit about what that strategy is. CONWAY: So we’re – I think as you mentioned, we’re in excess of 300 billion today and when we started this business, it was less about building a moat around private equity or real estate. I think Larry Fink’s and Rob Kapito’s vision was how do we build a platform to allow us to be relevant to our clients across the various alternative asset classes but also within the – within the confines of what they are permitted to do on a year-by-year basis. So, to always be relevant irrespective of where they are in their journey from respect of liabilities, demand for liquidity, demand for returns, so we took a different approach. I think, Barry, to most, it was around how do we scale into the business across, like you said, real estate equity and debt, infrastructure equity and debt. I mean, we think of that as the real assets platform of our business. Then you take our private equity capabilities both in primary investing, secondary et cetera, and then you have private credits and a very significant hedge fund platforms. So we think all of these have a real role and depending on clients liquidities and risk appetite, our goal was, to over the years, really build in to this to allow ourselves for this challenging needs that our clients have. I think as an industry, right, and over the many years alternatives have been in existence, this is been about return enhancement initially. I think, fundamentally, the changes around the receptivity to the role of alternatives in a client’s portfolio has really changed. So, we’ve watched it, Barry, from this is we’re in the pursuit of a very total return or absolute return type of an objective to now resilience in our portfolio, yield an income. And so things that probably weren’t perceived as valuable in the past because the traditional asset classes were playing a more profound role, alternatives have stepped up in – in many respects in the need to provide more than just total return. So, we’re taking the approach of how do you have a more holistic approach to this? How do we really build a global multi-alternatives capability and try to partner and I think that’s the important work for us. Try to partner with our clients in a way that we can deliver that outperformance but delivered in a way that probably our clients haven’t been used to in this industry before. Because unfortunately, as we know, it has had its challenges with regard to secrecy, transparency, and so many other aspects. We need to help the industry mature. And really that was our ambition. Put our client’s needs first, build around that and really be relevant in all aspects of what we’re doing or trying to accomplish on behalf of the people that they support and represent. RITHOLTZ: So, we’ll talk a little bit about transparency and secrecy and those sorts of things later. But right now, I have to ask what I guess is kind of an obvious question. This growth that you’ve achieved within Blackrock for nonpublic asset allocation within a portfolio, what is this coming at expense of? Are these dollars that are being moved from public assets into private assets or you just competing with other private investors? CONWAY: It’s really both. What – what you are seeing from our clients – if I take a step back, today, the institutional client community and you think about the – the retirement conundrum we’re all facing around the world. It’s such an awful challenge when you think how ill-prepared people are for that eventual stepping back from the workplace and then you know longevity is your friend, but can also be a very, very difficult thing to obviously live with if you’re not prepared for retirement. The typical pension plan today are allocating about 25 percent to 28 percent in alternatives. Predominantly private market. What they’re telling us is that’s increasing quite substantially going forward. But you know, the funding for that alpha pursue for that diversification and that yield is coming from fixed-income assets. It’s coming from equity assets. So there’s a real rebalancing that’s been taking place over the past number of years. And quite frankly, the evolution, and I think the innovation that’s taken place particularly in the past 10 years, alternatives has been really profound. So the days where you just invest in any global funds still exist. But now you can concentrate your efforts on sector exposure, industry exposures, geographic exposures, and I think the – the menu of things our clients can now have access to has just been so greatly enhanced at and the benefit is that but I think in some – in some respects, Barry, the next question is with all of those choices, how do you build the right portfolio for our client’s needs knowing that each one of our client’s needs are different? So, I would say it absolutely coming from the public side. We’re very thankful. Those that had a multiyear journey with us in the public side are now allocating capital to is now the private side to because I do think the – the industry given that change, given that it evolution and given the complexity of these private assets, our clients are looking to, quite frankly, do more with fewer managers because of the complexion of the industry and complexity that comes with it. RITHOLTZ: Quite – quite interesting. (UNKNOWN): And attention RIA’s. Are your clients asking for crypto? At interactive brokers, advisers can now offer crypto to their clients and you could trade stocks, options, futures currencies, bonds and more from the same platform. Commissions on crypto are just 12-18 basis points with no hidden spreads or markups and there are no ticket charges, custody fees, minimums platform or reporting fees. Learn more at IBKR.com/RIA crypto. RITHOLTZ: And I – it’s pretty easy to see why large institutions might be rotating away from things like treasuries or tips because there’s just no yield there. Are you seeing inflows coming in from the public equity side also? The markets put together a pretty good string of years. CONWAY: Yes. It absolutely has. And many respects, I think, we’ve had a multiyear where there was big questions around the alpha that can be generated, for example, from active equities? The question was active or passive? I think what we’ve all realized is that at times when volatility introduces itself which is frequent even independent of what’s been done from a fiscal and monetary standpoint, that these Alpha speaking strategies on the traditional side still make a lot of sense. And so, as we think about what – what’s happening here, the transition of assets from both passive and active strategies to alternative, it – it’s really to create better balance. It’s not that there’s – there’s a lack of relevance anymore in the public side. It’s just quite frankly the growth of the private asset base has grown so substantially. I moved, Barry, to the U.S. in 1998. And it’s interesting, when you look back at 1998 to today, you start to recognize the equity markets and what was available to invest in. The number of investable opportunities has shrunk by 40 plus percent which that compression is extraordinarily high. But yet you’ve seen, obviously, the equity markets grow in stature and significance and prominence but you’re having more concentration risk with some of the big public entities. The converse is true, though on the – on the private side. There’s this explosion of enterprise and innovation, employment creation, and then I believe opportunities has been real. So, I look at the public side, the investable universe is measured in the thousands and the private side is measured in the millions. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: And I think part of the – part of the part of the thing our clients are not struggling with but what we’re really recognizing with – with enterprises staying private for longer, if not forever, and with his growth of the opportunities that open debt and equity in the private market side, you really can’t forgo this opportunity. It has to be part of your going forward concerns and asset allocation. And I think this is why we’re seeing that transformation. And it’s not because equities on fixed income just aren’t relevant anymore. They’re very relevant but they’re relevant now in a total portfolio or a whole portfolio context beside alternatives. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s discuss this opportunity set of alternatives where you guys at Blackrock scene demand what sectors and from what sorts of clients? Is this demand increasing? CONWAY: We’re very fortunate, Barry. Today, there isn’t a single piece of our business within – within Blackrock alternatives that isn’t growing. And quite frankly too, it’s really up to us to deliver on the investment objectives that are set forth for those clients. I think in the back of strong absolute and relative performance, thankfully, our clients look to us to – to help them as – as they think about what they’re doing and as they’re exploring more in the alternatives areas. So, as you know, certainly, the private equity and real estate allocations are quite mature in many of our client’s portfolios but they’ve been around for many decades. I think that the areas where we’re seeing – that’s called an outside demand and opportunity set, just but virtue of the small allocations on a relative basis that exist today is really around infrastructure, Barry, and its around private credits. So, to caveat that, I think all of the areas are certainly growing, and thankfully, for us that’s true. We’re looking at clients who we believe are underinvested, we believe they’re underinvested in those asset classes infrastructure both debt and equity and in private credit. And as you think about why that is, the attributes that they bring to our client is really important and in a world where your correlation and understanding those correlations is important that these are definitely diversifying assets. In a world where you’re seeing trillions of dollars, quite frankly, you’re providing little to no or even there’s negative yield. Those short falls are real and people need yield than need income. These assets tend to provide that. So the diversification, it comes from these assets. The yield can come from these assets and because of the immaturity of the asset classes, independence of the capital is flowing in, we still consider them relatively white space. You’re not crowded out. There’s much room for development in the market and with our client’s portfolios. And to us, that’s exciting because it presents opportunities. So, at the highest level, they’re the areas where I believe are most underdeveloped in our clients. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk about both of those areas. We’ll talk about structured credit in a few minutes. I think everybody kind of understands what – what that is. What – when you see infrastructure as a sector, how does that show up as an investment are – and obviously, I have infrastructure on the brink because we’re recording this not too long after the giant infrastructure bill has been passed, tell us a little bit about what alternative investments in infrastructure looks like? CONWAY: Yes. It’s really in its infancy and what the underlying investments look like. I think traditionally, you would consider it as – and part of the bill that has just been announced, roads, bridges, airports. Some of these hard assets, some of the core infrastructure investments that have been around for actually some time. The interesting thing is the industry has evolved so much and put the need for infrastructure. It’s so great across both developed and emerging economies. It’s become something that if done the right way, the attributes we just spoke of can really have a very strong effect on our client’s portfolios. So, beyond the core that we just mentioned, well, we’ve seen a tremendous demand as a result of this energy transition. You’re really seeing a spike in activity and the necessity transition industry to cleaner technologies, a movement, not away completely from fossil fuel but integrating new types of clean energy. And as a result, you’ve seen a lot of demand on a global basis for wind and solar. And quite frankly, that’s why even us at BlackRock, albeit, 10-12 years ago, we really established a capability there to help with that transition to think about how do we use these technologies, solar panels, wind farms, to generate clean forms of energy for utilities where in some cases they’re mandated to procure this type of this type of – this type of power. And when you think about pre-contracting with utilities for long duration, that to me spells, Barry, good risk mitigation and management and ability to get access to clean forms of energy that throw off yield that can be very complementary to your traditional asset classes but for very long periods of time. And so, the benefits for us of these – these assets is that they are long in duration, they are yield enhancing, they’re definitely diversifying. And so, for us, where – we’ve got about, let’s call this 280 assets around the world that we’re managing that literally generate this – this clean electricity. I think to give the relevance of how much, I believe today, it’s enough to power the country of Spain. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: And that’s really that’s really changing. So you’re seeing governments – so from a policy standpoint, you’re seeing governments really embracing new forms of energy, transitioning out of bunker fuels, for example, you know, burning diesels which really spew omissions into the – into the into the environment. But it’s really around modernizing for the future. So, developed and emerging economies alike, want to retain capital. They want to attract new capital and by having the proper infrastructure to support industry, it’s a really, really important thing. Now, on the back of that too, one things we’ve learned from COVID is that the necessity to really bring e-commerce into how you conduct your business is so important and I think from the theme of digitalization within infrastructure to is a huge part. So, it’s not just the energy transition that you’re seeing, it’s not just roads and bridges, but by allowing businesses to connect to a global consumer, allowing children be educated from home, allowing experiences that expand geographies and boundaries in a digital form is so important not just for commerce but in so many other aspects. And so, you think about cable, fiber optics, if you think about all the other things even outside of power, that enable us to conduct commerce to educate, there are many examples where, Barry, you can build resilience into your portfolio because that need is not measured in years. Actually, the shortfall of capital is measured in the trillions so which means this is – this is a multi-decade opportunity set from our vantage point and one of which our clients should really avail of. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. And I mentioned in passing, structured credit, tell us a little bit about what that opportunity looks like. I think of this as a space that is too big for local banks but too small for Wall Street to finance. Is that an oversimplification? What is going on in that space. CONWAY: I probably couldn’t have set it better, Barry. It’s – if we go back to just the even the investable universe, in the tens of thousands of companies, just if we take North America that are private, that have great leadership that really have strategic vision under – at the – in some cases, at the start of their growth lifecycles are even if they maintain, they have a very credible and viable business for the future they still need capital. And you’re absolutely right. With the retreat of the banks from the space to various regulations that have come after the global financial crisis, you’re seeing the asset managers in many respects working behalf of our clients both wealth and institutional becoming the new lenders of choice. And – and when we – when we think about that opportunity set, that is really understanding the client’s desire for risk or something maybe in a lower risk side from middle-market lending or midmarket enterprises where you can support that organization through its growth cycle all the way to some higher-yielding, obviously, with more risk assets on the opportunistic or even the special situations side. But it – it expands many things. And going back of the commentary around the evolution of the space, private credit today and what you can do has changed so profoundly, it expands the liquidity spectrum, it expands the risk spectrum. And the great news is, with the number of companies both here and abroad, the opportunities that is – it’s being enriched every single day. And were certainly seeing, particularly going back to the question are some of these assets coming from the traditional side, the public side. When we think of private credit, you are seeing private credit now been incorporated in fixed-income allocations. This is a – it’s a yelling asset. This is – these are debt instruments, these are structures that we’re creating. We’re trying to flexible and dynamic with these clients. But it really is an area where we think – it really is still at its – at its infancy relevant to where it can potentially be. RITHOLTZ: That’s really quite – quite interesting. (UNKNOWN): It’s Rob Riggle. I’m hosting Season 2 of the iHeart radio podcast, Veterans You Should Know. You may know me as the comedic actor from my work in the Hangover, Stepbrothers or 21 Jump Street. But before Hollywood, I was a United States Marine Corps officer for 23 years. For this Veterans Day, I’ll be sitting down with those who proudly served in the Armed Forces to hear about the lessons they’ve learned, the obstacles they’ve overcome, and the life-changing impact of their service. Through this four-part series, we’ll hear the inspiring journeys of these veterans and how they took those values during their time of service and apply them to transition out of the military and into civilian life. Listen to Veterans You Should Know on the iHeart radio app, Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcast. RITHOLTZ: Let’s stick with that concept of money rotating away from fixed income. I have to imagine clients are starved for yields. So what are the popular substitutes for this? Is it primarily structured credit? Is it real estate? How do you respond to an institution that says, hey, I’m not getting any sort of realistic coupon on my bonds, I need a substitute? CONWAY: Yes. It’s all of those in many respects. And I think to the role, even around now a time where people have questions around inflation, how do substitute this yield efficiency or certainly make up for that shortfall, how do you think about a world where increasingly seeing inflation, not of the transitory thing it feels certainly quasi-permanent. These are a lot of questions we’re getting. And certainly, real estate is an is important part of how they think about inflation protection, how client think about yield, but quite frankly too, we’ve – we’ve gone through something none of us really had thought about a global pandemic. And as I think about real estate, just how you allocate to the sector, what was very heavily influenced with retail assets, high street, our shopping behaviors and habits have changed. We all occupied offices for obviously many, many years pre the pandemic. The shape of how we operate and how we do that has changed. So, I think some of the underlying investment – investments have changed where you’ve seen heavily weighted towards office space to leisure, travel in the past. Actually, now using a rotation in some respects out of those, just given some of the uncertainties around what the future holds as we come – come through a really difficult time. But the great thing about this sector is between senior living, between student housing, between logistics and so many other parts, there are ways in real estate to capture where there’s – where there’s demand. So still a robust opportunity set and it – and we do think it can absolutely be yield enhancing. We mentioned infrastructure. Even if you think about – and we mention OECD and non-OECD, emerging and developed, when I think about Asia, in particular, just as a subset of the world in which we’re living in, that is a $2.6 trillion alternative market today growing at a 15 percent CAGR. And quite frankly, the old-growth is driven by the large economic growth in the region. So, even from a regional perspective, if we pivot, it houses 57 percent of the world’s population and yet delivers 47 percent of the world’s economic growth. So, think of that and then with regard to infrastructure and goes back to that, this is truly a global phenomenon. So if we just even take that sector, Barry, you’ll realize that the way to maintain that type of growth, to attract capital, to keep capital, it really requires an investment of significant amount of money to be able to sustain that. And when you have 42 million people in a APAC migrating to cities in the year going back to digitalization, that’s an important thing. So, when I say we’re so much at the infancy in infrastructure, I really mean it. It can be water, it can be sewer systems, it can be digital, it can be roads, there’s so much to this. And then even down to the regional perspective, it’s a – it’s a need that doesn’t just exist in the U.S. So, for these assets, this tend to be long in duration. There’s both equity and debt. And on the debt side, quite frankly, very few outside of our insurance clients and their general account are taking advantage of the debt opportunity. And – and as we both know, to finance these projects that are becoming more plentiful every single day, across the world, including like, I said, in APAC in scale, there’s an opportunity in both sides. And I think that’s where the acid mix change happen. It’s recognizing that the attributes of these assets can have a role, the attributes of these assets can potentially replace some of these traditional assets and I think you’re going to see it grow. So, infrastructure to us, it’s really equity and debt. And then on the credit side, like I mentioned, again, too, it’s a very, very big and growing market. And certainly, the biggest area today from our vantage point is middle-market lending from a scale opportunity standpoint. So, we think much more to come in all of those spaces. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. And let’s just stay with the concept of public versus private. That line is kind of getting blurred and the secondary markets is liquidity coming to, for lack of a better phrase, pre-public equities, tells little bit about that space. Is that an area that is ripe for growth for BlackRock? CONWAY: Yes. We absolutely think it is and you’re absolutely correct. The secondary market is – has grown quite substantial. If you even look at just the private equity secondary market and what will transact this year, I think it will be potentially in excess of 100 billion. And that’s what were clear, not to mention what will be visible and what will be analyzed. And that speaks to me what’s really happening and the innovation that we mentioned earlier. It’s no longer about just primary exposure. It’s secondary exposure. When we see all sort of interest and co-investment opportunities as well, I think the available sources of alpha and the flexibility you can now have, albeit if directed and advised, I believe the right way, Barry, can be very helpful and in the portfolio. So, your pre-IPO, it is a big part of actually what we do and we think about growth equity. There is – it’s a significant amount of capital following that space. Now, from our vantage point, as one of the largest investors in the public equity market and now obviously one of the largest investors and they in the private side, the bridge between – between private to public – there’s a real need. IPOs are not going away. And I think smart, informed capital to help with this journey, this journey is really – is really a necessity and a need. RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk a little bit about this recent restructuring. You are first named Global Head of Blackrock Alternative Investors in April 2019, the entire alternatives business was restructured, tell us a little bit about how that restructuring is going? CONWAY: Continues to go really well, Barry. When you look at the flow of acid from our clients, I think, hopefully, that’s speaks to the performance we’ve been generating. I joined the firm, as you know, albeit, 11 years ago and being very close to the alternative franchise as a critical thing for me and running the institutional platform. To me, when you watched this migration of asset towards alternatives, it was obviously very evident for decades now that this is a critical leg of the stool as our clients are thinking about their portfolios. We’re continuing to innovate. We’re continuing to invest, and thankfully, we’re continuing to deliver strong performance. We’re growing at about high double digits on an annual basis but we’re trying to purposeful too around where that growth is coming from. I think the reality is when you look at the competitive universe, I think the last number I saw, it was about 38,000 alternative asset managers out there today, obviously, coming from hedge funds all the way to private credits and private equity. So, competition is real and I do think the outcomes for our clients are starting to really grow. Unfortunately, some – in some cases, obviously, very good, and in some cases, actually not great. So our focus, Barry, is really much on how can we deliver performance, how can we be a partner? And I think we been rewarded with a trust and the faith our clients have in us because they’re seeing something different, I think, from us. Now, the scale of the business that you mentioned earlier really gives us tentacles into the market that I believe allows us to access what I think is the new alpha which is in many respects, given the heft of competition sourcing and originating new investments is certainly harder but for us, sitting in or having alternative team, sitting in 50 offices around the world, really investing in the markets because that – the market they grew up with and have relationships within, I think this network value that we have is something that’s quite special. And I think in the world that’s becoming increasingly competitive, we’re going to continue to use and harness that network value to pursue opportunities. And thankfully, as a result of the partnership we’ve been pursuing with her clients, like, we’ve – we’re certainly looking for opportunities and investments in our funds. But because of the brand, I think because of the successes, opportunities seeks us as much as we seek opportunity and that has been something that we look at an ongoing basis and feel very privileged to actually have that inbound flow as well. RITHOLTZ: Really quite interesting. There was a quote of yours I found while doing some prep for this conversation that I have to have you expand on. Quote, “The relationship between Blackrock’s alternative capabilities and wealth firms marked a large opportunity for growth in the coming years.” This was back in 2019. So, the first part of the question is, was your expectations correct? Did you – did you see the sort of growth you were hoping for? And more broadly, how large of an opportunity is alternatives, not just for BlackRock but for the entire investment industry? CONWAY: Yes. It’s been very much an institutional opportunity set up until now. And there’s so much to be done, still, to really democratize alternatives and we certainly joke around making alternatives less alternative. Actually, even the nomenclature we use and how we describe it doesn’t kind of make sense anymore. It’s such a core – an important allocation to our clients, Barry, that just calling it alternative seems wrong. Just about the institutional clients. It ranges, I think, as I mentioned on our – some of our more conservative clients which would be pension plans which really have liquidity needs on a monthly basis because of the liabilities they have to think about. At about 25 plus percent in private markets, to endowments, foundations, family offices, going to 50 percent plus. So, it’s a really important part and has been for now many years the institutional client ph communities outcomes. I think the thing that we, as an industry, have to change is alternatives has to be for the many, not for the few. And quite frankly, it’s been for the few. And as we talked about some of the attributes and the important attributes of these asset classes to think that those who have been less fortunate in their careers can’t access, things they can enrich their future retirement outcomes, to me, is a failing. And we have to address that. That comes from regulation changes, it comes from structuring of new products, it comes from education and it comes from this knowledge transmission where clients in the wealth segment can understand the role of alternatives and the context of what can do as they invest in equities and fixed income too. And we think that’s a big shortfall. So, the journey today, just to give you a sense, as we look at her clients in Europe on the wealth side, on average, as you look from what we would call the credited investors all the way through to more ultra-high-net worth individuals, their allocation to alternatives, we believe, stands at around two to three percent of their total portfolio. In the U.S., we believe it stands at three to five. So, most of those intermediaries, we speak to our partners who were more supporting and serving the wealth channel. They have certainly an ambition to help their clients grow that to 20 percent and potentially beyond that. So, when I look at that gap of let’s call it two to three to 20 percent in a market that just given the explosion in wealth around the world, I think the last numbers I saw, this is a $65 trillion market. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: That speaks to the shortfall relative to the ambition. And how’s it been going? We have a number of things and capabilities we’ve set up to allow for this market to experience, hopefully, private equity, hedge funds, credit, and an infrastructure in ways they haven’t in the past. We’ve done this in the U.S., we’re doing it now in Europe, but I will say, Barry, this is still very much at the start of the journey. Wealth is a really important part of our future given our business, quite, frankly is 90 plus percent institutional today, but we’re looking to change that by, hopefully, democratizing these asset classes and making it so much more accessible in that of the past. RITHOLTZ: So, we hinted at this before but I’m going to ask the question outright, how significant is interest rates to client’s risk appetites, how much of the current low rate environment are driving people to move chunks of their assets from fixed income to alternatives? CONWAY: It’s really significant, Barry. I think the transition of these portfolios is quite profound, So you – and I think the unfortunate thing in some respects as this transition happens that you’re introducing new variables and new risks. The reason I say it’s unfortunate and that I think as an industry, this goes back to the education around the assets you own, understanding the role, understanding the various outcomes. I think it’s so incredibly important and that this the time where complete transparency is needed. And quite frankly, we’re investing capital that’s not ours. As an industry, we’re investing our client’s assets and they need to know exactly the underlying investments. And in good and bad times, how would those assets behave? So certainly, interest rates are driving a flow of capital away from these traditional assets, fixed-income, and absolutely in towards real estate, infrastructure, private creditors, et cetera, in the pursuit of this – this yield. But I do – I do think one of the things that’s critically important for the institutional channel, not just the wealth which are newer entrants is this transmission of education, of data because that’s how I think you build a better balanced portfolio and that’s a – that’s a real conundrum, I think, that the industry is facing and certainly your clients too. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. So let’s talk a little bit about the differences between investing in the private side versus the public markets, the most obvious one has to be the illiquidity. When you buy stocks or bonds, you get a print every microsecond, every tick, but most of these investments are only marked quarterly or annually, what does this illiquidity do when you’re interacting with clients? How do you – how do you discuss this with them in and how do perceive some of the challenges of illiquid investments? CONWAY: Over the – over the past number of decades, I think our clients have largely held too much liquidity in their portfolios. Like, so what we are finding is the ability to take on illiquidity risk. And obviously, in pursuit of that premium above, the traditional markets, I mean, I think the sentiment they are is it an absolute right one. That transition towards private market exposure, we think is an important one just given the return objectives, the majority of our clients’ need but then also again, most importantly now, with geo policy, with uncertainty, with interest rate uncertainty, inflation uncertainty, I mean, the – going back to the resilience point, the characteristics now by introducing these assets into the mix is important. And I think that’s – that point is maybe what I’ll expand on. As were talking to clients, using the Aladdin systems, and as you know, we bought eFront technologies, albeit a couple of years ago, by allowing, I think, great data and technology to help our clients understand these assets and the context of how they should own them relative to other liquidity needs, their risk tolerances, and the return expectations are really trying to use tech and data to provide a better understanding and comprehension of the outcomes. And as we continue to introduce these concepts and these approaches, by the way, that there is, as you know, so used to in the traditional side, it – it gives them more comfort around what they should and can expect. And that, to me, is a really important part of what we’re doing. So, we’ve released recently new technology to the wealth sector because, quite frankly, we mentioned it before, the 60-40 portfolio is a thing of the past. And that introduction of about 20 percent into alternatives, we applaud our partners who are – who are suggesting that to their clients. We think it’s something they have to do. What we’re doing to support that is really bringing thought leadership, education, but also portfolio construction techniques and data to bear in that conversation. And this goes back to – it’s no longer an alternative, right? This is a core allocation so the comprehension of what it is you own, the behavior of the asset in good and bad times is so necessary. And that’s become a very big thing with regard to our activities, Barry, because your clients are looking to understand better when you’re talking about assets that are very complex in their nature. RITHOLTZ: So, 60-40 is now 50-30-20, something along those lines? CONWAY: Yes. RITHOLTZ: Really, really intriguing. So, what are clients really looking for these days? We talked about yield. Are they also looking for downside protection on the equity side or inflation hedges you hinted at? How broad are the demands of clients in the alternative space? CONWAY: Yes. It ranges the gamut. And even – we didn’t speak to even hedge funds, we’ve had differing levels of interest in the hedge fund world for years and I, quite frankly, think some degree of disappointment too, Barry, with regard to the alpha, the returns that were produced relevant to the cost. RITHOLTZ: It’s a tough space to say the very least exactly. CONWAY: Exactly right. But when you start to see volatility introducing itself, you can really see where skill plays a critical factor. So, we are absolutely seeing, in the hedge fund, a resurgence of interest and demand by virtue of those who really have honed in on their scale, who have demonstrated an up-and-down markets and ability to protect and preserve capital, but importantly, in a low uncorrelated way build attractive risk-adjusted returns. We’re starting to see more activity there again too. I think with an alternatives, you’ve really seen a predominant demand coming from privates. These private markets, like a set of growths so extraordinarily fast and the opportunities that is rich, the reality too on the public side which is where our hedge funds operate, they continue to, in large part, do a really good job. The issue with our industry now with these 38,000 managers is how do you distill all the information? How do you think about your needs as a client and pick a manager who can deliver the outcomes? And just to give you a sense, the difference now between a top-performing private equity manager, a top quartile versus the bottom quartile, the difference can be measured in tens of percent. RITHOLTZ: Wow. CONWAY: Whereas if you look at the public equity side, for example, a large cap manager, top quartile versus bottom quartile is measured in hundreds of basis points. So, there is definitely a world that has started where the outcomes our clients will experience can be great as they pursue yield, as they pursue diversification, inflation protection, et cetera. I think the caveat that I would say is outcomes can vary greatly. So manager underwriting and the importance of it now, I think, really is this something to pay attention to because if you do have that bottom performing at the bottom quartile manager, it will affect your outcomes, obviously. And that’s what we collectively have to face. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about real estate. There are a couple of different areas of investment on the private side. Rent to own was a very large one and we’ve seen some lesser by the flip algo-driven approaches. Tell us what Blackrock is doing in the real estate space and how many different approaches are you bringing to bear on this? CONWAY: Yes, we think it’s both equity and debt. Again, no different to the infrastructure side, these projects need to be financed. But on the – as you think about the sectors in which you can avail of the opportunity, you’ve no doubt heard a lot and I mentioned earlier this demand for logistics facilities. The explosion of shopping online and having, until we obviously have the supply chain disruption, an ability to have nearly immediate satisfaction because the delivery of the good to your home has become so readily available. It’s a very different consumer experience. So the explosion and the need for logistics facilities to support this type of behavior of the consumer is really an area that will continue to be of great interest too. And then you think about the transformation of business and you think about the aging world. Unfortunately, you can look at various economies where our populations are decreasing. And quite frankly, we’re getting older. And so, were you’re thinking of the context of that senior living facilities, it becomes a really important part, not just as part of the healthcare solution that come with it, but also from living as well. So, single-family, multifamily, opportunities continue to be something that the world looks at because there is really the shortfall of available properties for people to live in. And as the communities evolve to support the growing age of the population, tremendous opportunity there too. But we won’t give up on office space. It really isn’t going away. Now, if you even think about our younger generation here in BlackRock, they love being in New York, they love being in London, they love being in Hong Kong. So, the shape and the footprint may change slightly. But the necessity to be in the major financial centers, it still exists. But how we weighed the risks has definitely changed, certainly, for the – for the short-term and medium-term future. But real estate continues to be, Barry, a critical part of how we express our thought around the investment opportunity set. But clients largely do this themselves too. The direct investing from the clients is quite significant because they too see this as still as a rich investment ground, albeit, one that has changed quite a bit as a result of COVID. RITHOLTZ: Well, I’m fascinated by the real estate issue especially having seen some massive construction take place in cities pre-pandemic, look over in Manhattan at Hudson Yards and look at what’s taking place in London, not just the center of London but all – but all around it and I’m forced to admit the future is going to look somewhat different than the past with some hybrid combination of collaborative work in the office and remote work from home when it’s convenient, that sort of suggests that we now have an excess of capacity in office space. Do you see it that way or is this just something that we’re going to grow into and just the nature of working in offices is changing but offices are not going away? CONWAY: Yes. I do think there’s – it’s a very valid point and that in certain cities, you will see access, in others we just don’t, Barry. And quite frankly, as a firm, too, as you know, we have adopted flexibility with our teams that were very fortunate. The technologies in which we created at BlackRock has just become such an amazing enabler, not just to help us as we mention manage the portfolios, help us a better portfolio construction, understand risks, but also to communicate with our clients. I think we’ve all witnessed and experienced a way to have connectivity that allows them to believe that commerce can exist beyond the boundaries of one building. However, I do look at our property portfolios and even the things that we’re doing. Rent collections still being extraordinarily high, occupancy now getting back up to pre-pandemic levels, not in all cities, but in many of the major ones that have reopened. And certainly, the demand for people to just socialize, that the demand for human connectivity is really high. It’s palpable, right? We see it here too. The smiles on people’s faces, they’re back in the office, conversing together, innovating together. When people were feeling unsafe, unquestionably, I think the question marks around the role of office space was really brought to bear. But as were coming through this, as you’ve seen vaccine rates change, as you’ve seen the infection rates fall, as you’ve seen confidence grow, the return to work is really happening and return to work to office work is really happening, albeit, now with degrees of flexibility. So, going back to the – I do believe in certain areas. You’re seeing a surplus. But in many areas you’re absolutely seeing a deficit and the reason I say that, Barry, is we are seeing occupancy in certain building at such a high level. And frankly, the demand for more space being so high, it’s uneven and this goes back to then where do you invest our client’s capital, making sense of those trends, predicting where you will see resilience versus stress and building that into the portfolio of consequences as you – as you better risk manage and mitigate. RITHOLTZ: Very interesting. And so, we are seeing this transition across a lot of different segments of investing, are you seeing any products that were or – or investing styles that was once thought of as primarily institutional that are sort of working their way towards the retail side of things? Meaning going from institutional to accredited to mom-and-pop investors? CONWAY: Well, certainly, in the past, private equity was really an asset class for institutional investors. And I think that’s – that has changed in a very profound way. I mentioned earlier are the regulation has become a more adaptive, but we also have heard, in many respects, in providing this access. And I think the perception of owning and be part of this illiquid investment opportunity set was hard to stomach because many didn’t understand the attributes and what it could bring and I think we’ve been trying to solve for that and what you’re seeing now with – with regulators, understanding that the difference between if we take it quite simply as DD versus DC, the differences between the options you as a participant in a retirement plan are so vastly different that – and I think there’s a broad recognition now that there needs to be more equity with regard to what happens there. And private equity been a really established part of the alternatives marketplace was once, I think, really believed to be an institutional asset class, but albeit now has become much more accessible to wealth. We’ve seen it by structuring activities in Europe working with the regulators. Now, we’re able to provide private equity exposure to clients across the continent and really getting access to what was historically very much an institutional asset class. And I do think the receptivity is extraordinarily high just throughout people’s careers, they have seen wealth been created as a result of engineering a great outcome with great management teams integrate business. And I do believe the receptivity towards private equity is high as an example. In the U.S., too, working with the various intermediaries and being able to wrap now private equity in a ’40 Act fund, for example, is possible. And by being able to deliver that to the many as opposed to the few, we think has been a very good success story. And I think, obviously, appreciated by our clients as well. So, I would look at that were seeing across private equity as well as private credit and quite frankly infrastructure accuracy. You’re seeing now regulation that’s becoming more appreciative of these asset classes, you’re seeing a more – a greater level of openness and willingness to allow for these assets to be part of many people’s experiences across their investment portfolio. And now, with innovation around structures, as an industry, were able to wrap these investments in a way that our clients can really access them. So, think across the board, it probably speaks the innovation that’s happening but I do think that accessibility has changed in a very significant way. But you’ve really seen it happen in private equity first and now that’s expanding across these various other asset classes. RITHOLTZ: Quite intriguing. I know I only have you for a relatively limited period of time, so let’s jump to our favorite questions that we ask all of our guests. Starting with tell us what you’ve been streaming these days. Give us your favorite Netflix or Amazon Prime shows. CONWAY: That is an interesting question, Barry. I don’t a hell of a lot of TV, I got to tell you. I am – I keep busy with three wonderful children and a beautiful wife and between the sports activities. When I do watch TV, I have to tell you I’m addicted to sports and having – I may have mentioned earlier, growing up playing rugby which is not the most common sport in the U.S., I stream nonstop the Six Nations that happens in Europe where Ireland is one of those six nations that compete against each other on an annual basis. Right now, they’re playing a lot of sites that are touring for the southern hemisphere. And to me, the free times I have is either enjoying golf or really enjoying rugby because I think it’s an extraordinary sport. Obviously, very physical, but very enjoyable to watch. And that, that truly is my passion outside of family. RITHOLTZ: Interesting stuff. Tell us a bit about your mentors, who helped to shape your early career? CONWAY: Well, it even goes back to some of the aspects of sports. Playing on a team and being on a field where you’re working together, there’s a strategy involved with that. Now, I used to really appreciate how we approach playing in the All-Ireland League. How we thought about our opponents, how we thought about the structure, how we thought about each individual with on the rugby field and the team having a role. They’re all different but your role. And actually, even starting from an early age, Barry, thinking about, I don’t know, it’s sports but how to build a great team with those various skills, perspective, that can be a really, really powerful combination when done well. And certainly, from an early age, that allowed me to appreciate that – actually, in the work environment, it’s not too different. You surround yourself with just really great people that have high integrity that are empathetic and have a degree of humility that when working together, good things can happen. And I will say, it really started at sports. But I think of today and even in BlackRock, how Larry Fink thinks about the world and I think Larry, truly, is a visionary. And then Rob Kapito who really helps lead the charge across our various businesses. Speaking and conversing with them on a daily basis, getting their perspectives, trying to get inside your head and thinking about the world from their vantage point. To me, it’s a huge thing about my ongoing personal career and development and I really enjoy those moments because I think what you recognize is independent of how much you think you know, there’s so much more to know. And this journey is an ever evolving one where you have to appreciate that you’ll never know everything and you need to be a student every single day. So, I’d probably cite those, Barry, as certainly the two most important mentors in my life today, professionally and personally quite frankly. RITHOLTZ: Really. Very interesting. Let’s talk about what you’re reading these days. Tell us about some of your favorite books and what you’re reading currently? CONWAY: Barry, what I love to read, I love to read history, believe it or not. From a very small country that seems to have exported many, many people, love to understand the history of Ireland. So, there’s so many books. And having three children that have been born in the U.S. and my wife is a New Yorker, trying to help them understand some of their history and what made them what they are. I love delving into Irish history and how the country had moments of greatness and moments of tremendous struggle. Outside of that, I really don’t enjoy science fiction or any of these books. I love reading, you name any paper and any magazine on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I wake at about 4:30, 5 o’clock every day. I spent my first two hours of the day just consuming as much information as possible. I enjoy it. But it’s all – it’s really investment-related magazines, not books. It’s every paper that you could possibly imagine, Barry, and I just – I have a great appreciation for certainly trying to be a student of the world because that’s what we’re operating in an I find it just a very interesting avenue to get an appreciation to for the, not just the opportunities, but the challenges we’re collectively facing as a society but also as a business. RITHOLTZ: I’m with you on that mass consumption of investing-related news. It sounds like you and I have the same a morning routine. Let’s talk about of what sort of advice you would give to a recent college graduate who was interested in a career of alternative investments? CONWAY: Well, the industry has – it’s just gone through such extraordinary growth and the difference, when I’ve started versus today, the career opportunity set has changed so much. And I think I try to remind anyone of our analysts who come into each one of our annual classes, right, as we bring in the new recruits. I think about how talented they are for us, Barry, and how privileged we all are to be in this industry and work for the clients that we do. It’s just such an honor to do that. But I kind of – I try to remind them of that. At the end of the day, whether you’re supporting an institution, that institution is the face of many people in the background and alternatives has really now become such an important part of their experience and we talked about earlier just this challenge of retirement, if we do a good job, these institutions that support the many, they can have, hopefully, a retirement that involves dignity and they can have an ability to do things they so wanted to do as they work so hard over their lives. Getting that that personal connection and allowing for those newbies to understand that that’s the effect that you can have, an alternatives whether it’s private equity, real estate, infrastructure, private credit, hedge funds, all of these now, with the scale at which they’re operating at can allow for a great career. But my advice to them is always don’t forget your career is supporting other people. And that comes directly to how we intersect with wealth channel, it comes indirectly as a result of the institutions. And it’s such a privilege to do that. I didn’t envision when I grew up, as I mentioned, my first job, milking cows and back in a small town in the middle of Ireland that I would be one day leading an alternatives business within BlackRock. I see that as a great privilege. So, for those who are joining afresh, hopefully, try to remind them that it is for all of us and show up with empathy, dignity, compassion, and do the best you can, and hopefully, these people be sure will serve them well. RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what you know about the world of alternative investing today you wish you knew 25 years or so ago when you were first getting started? CONWAY: I think if we had invested much more heavily as an industry in technology, we would not be in the position we are today. And I say that, Barry, from a number of aspects. I mentioned in this shortfall of information our clients are dealing with today. They’re making choices to divest from one asset class to invest in another. To do that and do that effectively, they need great transparency, they needed real-time in many respects, it can’t be just a quarterly line basis. And if we had been better prepared as an industry to provide the technology and the data to help our clients really appreciate what it is they own, how we’re managing the assets on their behalf, I think they would be so much better served. I think we’re very fortunate at this firm to have built a business on the back of technology for albeit 30 plus years and were investing over $1 billion a year in technology as I’m sure you know. But we need to see more of that in the industry. So, the client experience is so important, stop, let’s demystify alternatives. It’s not that alternative. Let’s provide education and data and it’s become so large relative to other asset classes, the need to support, to educate, and transmit information, not data, information, so our client understand it, is at a paramount now. And I think it certainly as an industry, things have to change there. If I knew how big the growth would have been and how prominent these asset classes were becoming, I would oppose so much harder on that front 30 years ago. RITHOLTZ: Thank you, Edwin, for being so generous with your time. We’ve been speaking with Edwin Conway. He is the head of Blackrock Investor Alternatives Group. If you enjoy this conversation, please check out all of our prior discussions. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, wherever you get your podcast at. We love your comments, feedback and suggestions. Write to us at MIB podcast@Bloomberg.net. You can sign up for my daily reads at ritholtz.com. Check out my weekly column at Bloomberg.com/opinion. Follow me on Twitter, @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack team that helps put these conversations together each week. Mohammed ph is my audio engineer. Paris Wald is my producer, Michael Batnick is my head of research, Atika Valbrun is our project manager. I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~   The post Transcript: Edwin Conway appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureNov 22nd, 2021

2 Blue Chip Stocks to Buy Now at Deep Discounts and Hold for Years

Investors with long-term outlooks might want to consider buying blue-chip stocks trading well below their records... Mega-cap technology stocks have surged to new highs recently. The momentum pushed the Nasdaq to records Friday as the market heads into a Thanksgiving-shortened week. The quick rebound came after investors took a temporary breather earlier this month.The bulls have fought their way back in control—at least temporarily—in the face of 30-year high inflation in October. Wall Street is apparently still optimistic despite rising prices, supply chain setbacks, and difficulty filling millions of open jobs.The backdrop for the positivity might focus on the fact that surging prices have not negatively impacted margins projections for the S&P 500 for 2022 or 2023. On top of that, fresh data out earlier this week showed U.S. retail sales jumped by a seasonally adjusted 1.7% in October vs. September. This is a great sign for the entire holiday shopping period.Helping support the market moment, as is often the case, are strong earnings results and low rates. And interest rates are poised to remain at historically low levels for the foreseeable future even if the Fed was forced to start raising them tomorrow.  All that said, now might not be the best time to buy into mega-cap tech stocks. Instead, investors with long-term outlooks should consider blue-chip stocks trading well below their records…Comcast CMCSA Comcast is a global media and technology conglomerate that operates broadband and wireless internet businesses, as well as paid-TV and much more. CMCSA expanded its international reach through its Sky acquisition, and its streaming TV segment, driven by NBCUniversal’s Peacock is slowly helping counterbalance its fading cable TV unit that’s lost subscribers to cord-cutting.Comcast’s movie studio and theme parks, which operate under the Universal brand, have bounced back recently amid the economic reopening. Meanwhile, its Xfinity Mobile cellphone business, which launched in 2017, has continued to gain steam. The segment added 285K customers last quarter for its best ever-showing, as part of a solid Q3 that saw Comcast beat our Q3 earnings and revenue estimates in late October.Comcast has now topped our adjusted quarterly earnings estimates by an average of 21% in the trailing four quarters, including a 16% beat last period after its Q3 EPS jumped 34%. Zacks estimates call for its FY21 earnings to climb 21% and then pop another 20% higher next year to $3.78 a share. Meanwhile, its revenue is projected to jump 12% in FY21 and another 7% higher to reach $123.44 billion in FY22, as it returns to solid growth after a slight covid-hit downturn.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchComcast, which lands a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) right now, also bought back $1.5 billion worth of its shares last quarter and its 1.90% dividend yield nearly matches the 30-year U.S. Treasury and blows away the S&P 500’s 1.21%. Wall Street also remains largely bullish on Comcast, with 11 of the 15 brokerage recommendations Zacks has at “Strong Buys.”CMCSA shares started to fall at the end of August, alongside the broader market. But the media and internet titan has failed to mount any real comeback just yet, down 16% from its records as of Friday at $51.91 a share. Comcast is trading well below its 50-day and 200-day moving averages.Luckily, its Zacks consensus prices target of nearly $65 a share marks 25% upside to its current levels. And the recent downturn has it trading below its five-year median at 14.2X forward 12-month earnings. This also represents a 30% discount to its industry and its own year-long highs. And Comcast is closing in on oversold RSI levels (30 or under) at 38, while the S&P 500 is at overbought.Disney DISDisney fell well short of our Q4 earnings estimates on November 10, and Wall Street dumped the stock on slowing streaming growth. The recent post-earnings decline extends a longer downward trend that sets up a solid entry point for the entertainment powerhouse.The firm added roughly 2.1 million new Disney+ subscribers to come in far below analysts estimate. The figure also marked its slowest growth since it launched in November of 2019. That “miss” is a tad misleading and it clouds how far the streaming service has come.Disney+ boasts 118.1 million subscribers at the moment and executives reiterated on its earnings call the 230 to 260 million subscriber guidance by the end of FY24 for its namesake streaming platform. The new goal blows away its initial 60 to 90 million projections back in the fall of 2019.Overall, its total streaming space hit 179 million across Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu—NFLX closed Q3 with 214 million. The company is now one of the major players in a growth industry and its catalog and brands remain at the top of the food chain.Disney’s Star Wars and Marvel movies dominated theaters before the pandemic and covid temporarily crushed its parks segment. The entrainment titan’s parks and resorts from Disney World in Orlando to Shanghai Disney Resort are now open. On top of that, it began releasing movies again in theaters, with comparatively strong showings given the circumstances. Plus, more and more people are poised to venture back to the theaters in 2022.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchDisney’s revenue climbed 26% in the quarter and 3% on the year. Zacks estimates now call for its FY22 revenue to soar 25% to crush its pre-covid totals by $16 billion at $84.39 billion, with FY23 ready to climb 12% higher to over $94 billion. At the bottom end of the income statement, its adjusted earnings are expected to skyrocket 107% and 31%, respectively during this stretch.Disney lands a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and its current-year EPS consensus slipped slightly following its release. Similar to its peer on our list today, Wall Street is still bullish on Disney for the long haul, with 11 of the 17 brokerage recommendations at “Strong Buys,” with two more “Buys” and nothing under a “Hold.”Disney closed regular trading hours Friday 23% below its records at $154.00 a share. The pullback from its highs includes a roughly 13% decline since its earnings release. DIS is now trading around where it was last December and the post-earnings drop sent in well below oversold RSI levels (30 or under) at 25.The decline completely recalibrated its valuation that had grown rather out of whack amid its huge pandemic climb, when its parks and theater units were crushed and it continued to spend on streaming. Disney now trades at a 60% discount to its year-long highs at 30.2X forward 12-month earnings. The stock does sit well off its 50-day and 200-day moving averages.Yet, its current Zacks consensus price target of $201.95 share represents 31% upside potential to Friday’s close. All things considered, investors with long-term horizons might want to scoop up Disney stock now, even if it falls further because timing doesn’t matter as much if you plan to hold DIS for years. More Stock News: This Is Bigger than the iPhone! It could become the mother of all technological revolutions. Apple sold a mere 1 billion iPhones in 10 years but a new breakthrough is expected to generate more than 77 billion devices by 2025, creating a $1.3 trillion market. Zacks has just released a Special Report that spotlights this fast-emerging phenomenon and 4 tickers for taking advantage of it. If you don't buy now, you may kick yourself in 2022.Click here for the 4 trades >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Comcast Corporation (CMCSA): Free Stock Analysis Report The Walt Disney Company (DIS): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 19th, 2021

Fewer adults see their job as a source of life"s meaning, and it shows how the pandemic has changed America"s relationship with work

People are rethinking what it means to live a good life. New research shows many Americans have downgraded work as a source of meaning. A record number of Americans continue to quit their jobs.Skynesher/GETTY IMAGES A new report from the Pew Research Center looks at what Americans see as a source of life's meaning. Just 17% of adults surveyed cited work as a source of meaning, down from 24% in 2017. It shows how Americans are rethinking work, and reshaping the labor market in turn. Among all the life changes brought by the pandemic, Americans' view of work — and how much of it they should be doing — has drastically shifted.In fact, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center, fewer people than ever believe work is a source of the meaning of life.Just 17% of the over 2,500 adults surveyed said their job, occupation, or career was a source of meaning. That's down from 2017 when 24% of adults surveyed said so. Instead, the most people — 49% — said family and children are the source of life's meaning, followed by 20% saying friends. In the US, 6% of respondents said that the pandemic affected how they see meaning in life.It may be just another part of the labor market's mass reshaping due to the pandemic. For six months, Americans have been quitting at near-record highs. After all, researchers say that the pandemic has prompted reevaluations and spurred big decisions. Americans are are especially jaded when it comes to work. Of the 17 advanced economies that Pew surveyed in 2021, the share of adults in the US to list work as a source of meaning comes in fourth from last, just ahead of South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. The US also falls below the median of 25%; Italians were the most likely to list work as a source of meaning, coming in at 43%.That's true across income brackets: While higher-earners and those with college degrees are still more likely than other groups to list their jobs as something that brings meaning, they're now less likely to than in previous years. Still, 24% of high-income adults said that their career gives them meaning, while just 12% of low-income adults said the same. And 26% of those with college degrees cited work as a source of meaning, while 11% of their less-educated peers said the same.The Pew study is the latest data point showing that Americans are decoupling themselves from work, something that's been intrinsic to the American identity. As organizational psychologist Anthony Klotz — who coined the term "Great Resignation" — told Insider: "In the United States, who we are as an employee and as a worker is very central to who we are as people."But the pandemic yanked people from their offices, accelerated burnout, or, for millions of people, left them just completely jobless — forcing a removal from work. According to Klotz, that may have given Americans a chance to try out "other elements" of life more. Indeed, Americans found more meaning in nature and the outdoors, according to Pew. Interestingly, Americans also found more meaning in society, places, and institutions, but many in a negative manner — suggesting another desire to change the institutions shaping American life.Americans also value their freedom and independence more now than in 2017, and that's seeping into work too. Look no further than the rise of antiwork, where workers vote with their feet and walk out on exploitative jobs and reconsider what, if any, role work should play in life.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 18th, 2021

We were among the first to go onboard Gulfstream"s new $78 million G700 and saw how it plans to stand out among encroaching rivals - see inside

Gulfstream is set to lead the industry with an unprecedented combination of size, range, and luxury. But rivals are quickly catching up. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Gulfstream's largest-ever private jet will soon fly the most elite travelers as its first delivery in 2022 nears. The $78 million G700 offers nearly 57 feet on cabin length with room for a shower and bedroom. Competition from rival private jet manufacturers is threatening the G700's impressive size and range. Gulfstream is preparing to debut its largest private jet yet, catering to an elite class of traveler that can afford a $78 million price tag. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider The G700 will enter service next year and offer the wealthy an unprecedented combination of spaciousness, range, and luxury in a purpose-built private jet three years in the making. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Travelers will be able to fly between any two cities in the world in one-stop or fewer thanks to the G700's impressive range of 7,500 nautical miles. And all while flying in the largest cabin that Gulfstream has ever constructed. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Gulfstream's G700 debut will arrive amid a field of tough competitors, namely Bombardier's Global 7500. The Canadian private jet currently leads the pack as the world's longest-ranged purpose-built private aircraft, and the largest currently in service. Christinne Muschi/Reuters And in France, the Dassault Falcon 10X will soon be a competitor that offers an even larger cabin than the G700 with a range of 7,500 nautical miles. Dassault Aviation's new Falcon 10X private jet. © Dassault Aviation - Droits Réservés Meet the Dassault Aviation jet that one expert describes as a category killer. Gulfstream just recently debuted the jet to the public, at an unveiling with launch customer Qatar Executive in Doha, Qatar, and Insider was among the first onboard. Here's what it was like. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider It's impossible not to notice how much space the G700 occupies. Even in an otherwise empty aircraft hangar, the aircraft presence is undeniable as it boasts a triple-digit 103-foot wingspan typically reserved for airliners. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Two Rolls Royce Pearl 700 engines exclusive to the G700 enable a top speed of Mach .925 and the maximum range of 7,500 nautical miles. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Climbing onboard the aircraft, the built-in airstairs allow for flyers to ascend directly into the airplane and the awaiting cabin. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider This is the first G700 that Gulfstream has fitted with an interior and flew to Doha in just over 13 hours. A speed record was broken between the two cities, flying 6,711 nautical miles in 13 hours and 16 minutes, even with a full contingent of Gulfstream staff onboard. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider This demonstration aircraft had a relatively low-density configuration with seating for 15 across four living spaces. But as many as 19 people can be seated on the G700 in a high-density configuration. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Even with the additional cabin space, however, a 19-passenger seating configuration is a rarity in the industry where privacy and exclusivity is paramount. Most private owners will only fly with a handful of other select passengers. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Stepping inside the cabin, it appears no different from its sibling aircraft and has the same cabin height and width dimensions as the smaller G650ER. But the true beauty of the G700 is its length, offering an additional 10 feet and one inch of living space. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider The demonstration aircraft included the traditional private jet seating features included two pairs of seats in the front of cabin... A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Followed by an additional seat pair over wings, which could be replaced with a divan... A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider A conference and dining area in the back with a total of six seats... A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider And a private stateroom including a seat pair and a divan. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700 Thomas Pallini/Insider The demonstration aircraft also featured a 10-foot-long "ultragalley" where flight attendants will craft the meals, drinks, and snacks for the flight. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Opposite the galley is a private room for a crew member to rest if a flight exceeds a certain distance. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider But the cabin is completely customizable and owners can have as many or as few seats as they desire. And owners now have nearly 57 feet of cabin length to fill with as many or as few seats as they want. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider The 56-foot and 11-inch long cabin is complemented by a height of six feet and three inches and a width of eight feet and two inches. It's a larger cabin than anything currently in service with Dassault and Bombardier, but not for long. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Gulfstream's design teams will spend time with individual aircraft owners to learn their tastes and what style will meet their needs. including spending time in their homes. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider The interior was guided by customer feedback, including in the galley, and with the expectation that customers will be using the aircraft to its fullest capabilities. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider The cabin is interconnected with everything from cabin lighting to window shades controllable from a mobile device. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Controls, though, can be found at each seat so that customers don't have to use use the app on their phone for basic functions if they don't want to. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Entertainment screens around the aircraft offer ultra-high-definition displays in 4K. Entertainment, like comfort, is vital when flying the long distances of which the G700 is capable. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Illuminating the cabin during the day is a total of 10 windows on each side of the aircraft allow for unprecedented levels of natural light. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider And with a diameter of 28 inches, there's no need to crane one's neck to get a good view, as Insider found on a demonstration flight with Gulfstream's G650ER aircraft featuring the same windows. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Here's what it's like flying on a Gulfstream G650ER.  Gulfstream used pressure mapping to design new seats for additional comfort on flights. Seat-backs are also hardshell to reduce the wear and tear on the leather. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Any of the seats on the aircraft can be made into a bed but the extra length offered in the aircraft allows room for a full-size bed if an owner so chooses. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider The G700 falls into a limited class of private jets that are large enough to accommodate a shower. This model didn't have the shower but a frequent long-haul flyer might consider it a necessity. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider The cockpit is yet another Gulfstream innovation that takes some of the latest systems from Honeywell Aerospace. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider High-definition displays and touch screens largely replace the buttons and switches found in traditional airliner cockpits. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider The simplified experience is designed to ease pilot workload. Pilots can arrive at the aircraft and be ready to fly in under 10 minutes, assuming the aircraft is fully fueled and appropriately stocked. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider The result, Gulfstream believes, is pilots that are less fatigued and can fly longer distances while still maintaining situational awareness and sharp decision-making skills. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider The effects of poor weather and reduced visibility are also reduced given that a heads-up display lets pilots see through clouds and avoid terrain. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Wealthy travelers that don't want to spend $78 million to buy a G700 can turn to one of the few charter and fractional ownerships companies that are investing in the G700 for their passengers. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Qatar Executive, the private jet division of Qatar Airways, has an order for 10 aircraft. The first aircraft will arrive in late 2022. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Here's how Qatar Executive is finding success through buying some of the world's latest private jets. In the US, fractional ownership provider Flexjet will also add the G700 to its lineup. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider The G700 won't be Gulfstream's flagship for long as the two new aircraft types have already been announced by the manufacturer, including one that can fly further than the G700. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Meet the Gulfstream G400 and G800. The G800, with a range of 8,000 nautical miles, will soon surpass the G700 and G650ER as the longest-ranged aircraft that Gulfstream has ever produced. But the 500-nautical mile increase in range comes at the expense of space in the cabin. Gulfstream G800 Gulfstream In terms of sheer size, the G700 will reign supreme for the foreseeable future, at least in Gulfstream's lineup. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider And even amid a field of tough competitors, the unmistakable Gulfstream look conveys a sense of class and style that other aircraft builders may never be able to match. A first look at Gulfstream's new G700. Thomas Pallini/Insider Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 14th, 2021

European Army: Rhetoric Versus Reality

European Army: Rhetoric Versus Reality Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute, The call for a supranational army, part of a push for Europe to achieve "strategic autonomy" from the United States, is being spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron, who, as part of his reelection campaign, apparently hopes to replace outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the de facto leader of Europe. Many EU member states disagree with Macron. Eastern European countries, some of which face existential threats from Russia, know that neither the EU nor France can match the military capabilities offered by NATO and the United States. Other countries are concerned about a panoply of issues ranging from financial costs to national sovereignty. "If the EU Army undermines NATO, or results in the separation of the U.S. and Europe or produces a paper army, Europe will be committing the most enfeebling and dangerous act of self-harm since the rise of fascism in the 1930s. An EU Army will amount to European de-arming." — Bob Seely, Tory MP. "It will be hard to convince some member states that collective EU defense would bring the same security as NATO's U.S.-backed defense arrangement." — Richard Whitman, professor of politics and international relations at the University of Kent. "Few share France's willingness to splurge on defense, or its expeditionary military culture. (Germany, especially, does not.) Nobody agrees what 'strategic autonomy' actually means." — The Economist. "The EU is not a credible substitute for what NATO represents. You will not see any appetite for the European army amongst member states." — Kristjan Mäe, head of the Estonian defense ministry's NATO and EU department. "Even if national capitals wanted to lunge for a common army, there are so many technical, legal, and administrative differences between their militaries that it would take decades to produce a smoothly functioning force.... Conclusion: any talk of creating a fully-fledged common army, even within the next generation, is just that: jaw-jaw and not real-real." — Brooks Tigner, analyst, Atlantic Council. European federalists seeking to transform the 27-member European Union into a European superstate — a so-called United States of Europe — have revived a decades-old proposal to build a European army. The call for a supranational army, part of a push for Europe to achieve "strategic autonomy" from the United States, is being spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron, who, as part of his reelection campaign, apparently hopes to replace outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the de facto leader of Europe. Macron claims that Europe needs its own military because, according to him, the United States is no longer a reliable ally. He cites as examples: U.S. President Joe Biden's precipitous withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan; the growing pressure on Europe to take sides with the United States on China; and France's exclusion from a new security alliance in the Indo-Pacific region. Many EU member states disagree with Macron. Eastern European countries, some of which face existential threats from Russia, know that neither the EU nor France can match the military capabilities offered by NATO and the United States. Other countries are concerned about a panoply of issues ranging from financial costs to national sovereignty. Still others are opposed to creating a parallel structure to NATO that could undermine the transatlantic alliance. A common EU army appears to be a long way from becoming reality. A logical course of action would be for EU member states (which comprise 21 of the 30 members of NATO) to honor past pledges to increase defense spending as part of their contribution to the transatlantic alliance. That, however, would fly in the face of the folie de grandeur — the delusions of grandeur — of European federalists who want to transform the EU into a major geopolitical power. Pictured: Soldiers of the Franco-German brigade, a military unit founded in 1989, jointly consisting of units from the French Army and German Army. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Strategic Autonomy The term "strategic autonomy" in European discussions on defense has been in use since at least December 2013, when the European Council, the EU's governing body comprised of the leaders of the 27 EU member states, called for the EU to improve its defense industrial base. In June 2016, the term appeared in the EU's security strategy. The document — "A Global Strategy for the European Union's Foreign and Security Policy" — was said to "nurture the ambition of strategic autonomy" for the European Union. "An appropriate level of ambition and strategic autonomy," it stated, "is important for Europe's ability to promote peace and security within and beyond its borders." In recent years, the concept of "strategic autonomy" has taken on far broader significance: the idea now means that the EU should become a sovereign power that is militarily, economically, and technologically independent from the United States. EU observer Dave Keating noted: "The Brussels buzzword is now 'strategic autonomy,' an effort to wrestle the word 'sovereignty' away from nationalists and make the case that only a strong EU can make Europeans truly sovereign in relation to Russia, China, and the United States." European federalists increasingly have called for building an autonomous EU military force: March 8, 2015. In an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Jean-Claude Juncker, then the president of the European Commission, the EU's administrative arm, declared that the European Union needed its own army because it was not "taken entirely seriously" on the international stage. The proposal was flatly rejected by the British government, which at the time was still an EU member: "Our position is crystal clear that defense is a national — not an EU — responsibility and that there is no prospect of that position changing and no prospect of a European army." September 26, 2017. President Macron, in a major speech at Sorbonne University, called for a joint EU defense force as part of his vision for the future of the bloc: "Europe needs to establish a common intervention force, a common defense budget and a common doctrine for action." November 6, 2018. Macron, marking the centenary of the armistice that ended World War 1, warned that Europe cannot be protected without a "true, European army." He added: "We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America." November 13, 2018. German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed Macron's calls for a European army: "The times when we could rely on others are over. This means nothing less than for us Europeans to take our destiny in our own hands if we want to survive as a Union.... We have to create a European intervention unit with which Europe can act on the ground where necessary. We have taken major steps in the field of military cooperation; this is good and largely supported in this house. But I also have to say, seeing the developments of the recent years, that we have to work on a vision to establish a real European army one day." September 10, 2019. During her first press conference as the new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who has long called for a "United States of Europe," said that she will lead a "geopolitical Commission" aimed at boosting the EU's role on the world stage. She did not offer many details other than a vaguely worded pledge that the European Union would "be the guardian of multilateralism." November 7, 2019. President Macron, in an interview with the London-based magazine, The Economist, declared that NATO was "brain dead" and warned that European countries can no longer rely on the United States for defense. Europe, he said, stands on "the edge of a precipice" and needs to start thinking of itself strategically as a geopolitical power and regain "military sovereignty" or otherwise "we will no longer be in control of our destiny." Macron criticized U.S. President Donald J. Trump because he "doesn't share our idea of the European project." Chancellor Merkel said Macron "used drastic words — that is not my view of co-operation in NATO." November 26, 2019. France and Germany announced the "Conference on the Future of Europe," a two-year post-Brexit soul-searching exercise aimed at reforming the EU to make it "more united and sovereign." June 17, 2020. The European Council tasked the EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, with drafting a written "Strategic Compass." The document should have three main purposes: 1) to formulate the EU's first common threat analysis; 2) to strengthen the EU's security and defense role; and 3) to offer political guidance for future military planning processes. The Strategic Compass, aimed at harmonizing the perception of threats and risks within the EU, is to be presented in November 2021, debated by EU leaders in December 2021, and approved in March 2022. December 3, 2020. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, in blog post, "Why European Strategic Autonomy Matters," wrote: "It is difficult to claim to be a 'political union' able to act as a 'global player' and as a 'geopolitical Commission' without being 'autonomous.'" He described "strategic autonomy" as a long-term process intended to ensure that Europeans "increasingly take charge of themselves." May 5, 2021. Fourteen EU countries — Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain — called for the creation of a so-called EU First Entry Force consisting of 5,000 troops with air, land and sea capabilities. August 29, 2021. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, said that the moment had come to establish an EU expeditionary force — a "First Entry Force" — to compensate for U.S. "disengagement" from international affairs. A senior EU diplomat, speaking to the Guardian newspaper, asked: "We have been here before — which leader is going to allow their nationals to be killed in the name of the EU? What problem is this reaction force meant to solve? Does Borrell seriously entertain the idea the EU would be able to step into the void the US left?" September 15, 2021. In her annual State of the Union speech delivered to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, von der Leyen urged greater military independence from the United States. "Europe can — and clearly should — be able and willing to do more on its own," she said. She called for a "European Defense Union" but admitted the "lack of political will" to "build the foundation for collective decision-making." October 2, 2021. European Council President Charles Michel, speaking at an award ceremony of the International Charlemagne Prize, declared that "2022 will be the year of European defense." October 5-6, 2021. At an EU Summit in Slovenia, EU member states were so divided on the issue of strategic autonomy that the topic was not even included in the summit's final declaration. To create the illusion of consensus, Michel issued an "oral conclusion" of the summit: "To become more effective and assertive on the international stage, the European Union needs to increase its capacity to act autonomously." A History of Failure The debate over building a European army has been going on since the end of World War 2. In 1950, France proposed creating a common army to protect Western Europe from the Soviet Union without having to rearm Germany. A treaty creating the so-called European Defense Community was signed in 1952, but it was never ratified by the French Parliament due to concerns that France would lose its sovereignty to a multilateral decision-making body. In the late 1990s, after the EU and its member states failed to prevent a decade of bloodletting in the Yugoslav Wars, and after the United States intervened, European leaders called for the creation of a European Rapid Reaction Force capable of acting in future crises. In 2007, after years of debate, the EU established two so-called EU battlegroups consisting of 1,500 troops each to respond to crises, but due to intra-European disputes over financing and deployment, they have never been used. The European Union is now calling for the battlegroups to be rebranded as a "First Entry Force" comprised of 5,000 troops. It remains unclear why EU leaders think the latter will achieve what the former could not. In any event, a force that small is nowhere near enough to give the EU "strategic autonomy" from the United States. Over the decades, the European quest for "strategic autonomy" has resulted in dozens of summits, declarations, concept papers, reports, institutions, terms and acronyms, including: Petersberg Declaration; St. Malo Declaration; Berlin Plus Agreement; Franco-German Brigade; German-Netherlands Corps; Belgian-Dutch Naval Cooperation Accord; European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP); Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP); Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO); European Capabilities Action Plan (ECAP); Headline Goals; EU Battlegroups; European Gendarmerie Force; European Rapid Operational Force (EUROFOR); European Maritime Force; Eurocorps; Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF); Entente frugale; European Defense Agency; European Security Strategy; European Intervention Initiative (EI2); EUFOR; European Command and Control (C2); European Union Military Committee (EUMC); European Union Military Staff (EUMS); Joint Support Coordination Cell (JSCC); Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC); Political and Security Committee (PSC); Politico-Military Group (PMG); European Defense Fund; Coordinated Annual Review on Defense (CARD); and the EU's ongoing "Strategic Compass" process, among many others. German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, in a recent opinion article published by Politico, concluded that "illusions of European strategic autonomy must come to an end." She added: "Europeans will not be able to replace America's crucial role as a security provider. We have to acknowledge that, for the foreseeable future, we will remain dependent." Lack of Capabilities An important obstacle to building a European army is the reluctance of EU governments to invest in defense. At the 2014 Wales Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, allies agreed to spend a minimum of 2% percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to defense spending. In 2020, only nine of NATO's 21 European members honored their pledges, according to data supplied by NATO. Germany — the biggest economy in the EU and the fourth-biggest in the world — spent only 1.53% of GDP on defense in 2020. That represents an increase of less than 0.5% of GDP since 2015. France, the EU's second-biggest economy, spent 2.01% of GDP on defense in 2020, an increase of only 0.3% of GDP since 2015. Italy, the EU's third-biggest economy, spent 1.41% of GDP on defense in 2020, while Spain, the EU's fourth-biggest economy, spent a mere 1.02% of GDP on defense in 2020, according to NATO data. The numbers show that defense spending is not a priority in most European countries. The German armed forces (the Bundeswehr) are in an especially sad state of disrepair. A damning report published by the German Parliament in January 2019 found that critical equipment was scarce and that readiness and recruitment were at all-time lows. "No matter where you look, there's dysfunction," said a high-ranking German officer stationed at Bundeswehr headquarters in Berlin. A May 2018 report by the German magazine Der Spiegel revealed that only four of Germany's 128 Eurofighter jets were combat ready. Germany's obligation to NATO requires it to have at least 80 combat-ready jets for crisis situations. At the end of 2017, not one of the German Air Force's 14 large transport planes was available for deployment due to a lack of maintenance, according to the German Parliament. In October 2017, a spokesman for the German Navy said that all six of Germany's submarines were in the dock for repairs. In February 2015, Germany's defense ministry admitted that its forces were so under-equipped that they had to use broomsticks instead of machine guns during a NATO exercise in Norway. Much of the blame falls on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During her 16 years in office, she has been content to free-ride on the U.S. defense umbrella. Also to blame is Ursula von der Leyen, who was German defense minister between 2014 and 2019, before she was promoted to lead the European Commission, and who now wants to build a European army. As German defense minister, von der Leyen was plagued by scandals and accused of cronyism, mismanagement and nepotism. EU affairs analyst Matthew Karnitschnig quipped: "With Merkel on her way out, fixing the Bundeswehr will likely be up to her successor. Until then, plans for a 'European Army' that includes Germany have about as much chance of getting off the ground as the German Air Force." France, which has just under 300,000 active-duty personnel, has the largest military in Europe. Still, it remains a regional power, not a global one. In September 2021, the RAND Corporation, in a major study — "A Strong Ally Stretched Thin: An Overview of France's Defense Capabilities from a Burdensharing Perspective" — concluded that the French military suffers many shortcomings that render as "limited" its capacity to sustain a high-end, conventional conflict. The French Army "faces a challenge with respect to readiness, owing to past budget cuts and austerity measures, a small number of weapon systems, and the burden of sustaining ongoing overseas operations," according to RAND. The French Air Force "suffers from limited capacity" and "severely lacks strategic airlift." The French Navy, which has only one aircraft carrier, like France's other services, "has issues with readiness, and munitions stocks reportedly are low," according to RAND. The report's takeaway is that the French military would require decades of preparation and massive budget increases to realistically form the basis for a European army. Poland, which is opposed to a European army because it would "weaken" the armies of NATO's member states, plans to double the size of its armed forces to 250,000 soldiers and 50,000 reserves. The expansion, announced on October 26, would make the Polish military the second-largest in Europe, ahead of that of the United Kingdom. In January 2020, Poland signed a contract worth $4.6 billion to purchase 32 F-35A fighter jets from the United States. In October 2018, Belgium signed a $4.5 billion deal to purchase 34 F-35A fighter jets from the United States. "The offer from the Americans was the best in all our seven evaluation criteria," Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput wrote on Twitter. "The decision is a setback for Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain, who are behind the Eurofighter program, and also means the rejection of an informal French offer to sell Belgium the Rafale fighter built by Dassault Aviation," according to Reuters. This implies that in the future the Belgian and Polish militaries will be further integrated with the United States and NATO rather than with a hypothetical European army. Macron's Motives One of the most vocal champions of the idea of a European army is French President Emmanuel Macron. He must know that an independent EU military remains only a distant possibility, despite his describing the NATO alliance as "brain dead." As German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to retire, it appears that much of Macron's posturing on European "strategic autonomy" is part of a French nationalist campaign strategy aimed at presenting France as a great power that dominates the European Union. Macron seems to be trying to appeal to French voters while carving out a role for himself to replace Merkel as the new leader of Europe. Macron, who has yet to declare his candidacy, faces reelection in April 2022. Currently he is the clear first-round front-runner at 24%, according to recent polls cited by Politico. His main rivals are two nationalists: Marine Le Pen of the right-leaning National Rally party, and Éric Zemmour, a French essayist and media personality. Macron has been calling for a European army for several years, but his professed aspiration for "strategic autonomy" shifted into high gear after U.S. President Donald J. Trump threatened to withdraw from NATO if European member states refused to pay their fair share. Trump's warning, which appears to have been more of a bluff than a real threat, prompted many European countries to increase their defense spending, even if most are still below the agreed-upon threshold of 2% of GDP. Macron subsequently was dealt a humiliating blow by the Biden administration. In September 2021, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced a new tripartite strategic alliance aimed at countering China's growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. Notably, the so-called AUKUS agreement does not include any member state of the European Union, which was completely left in the dark about the new alliance. AUKUS was announced on September 15, just hours before the EU unveiled its much-hyped "Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific." The EU had been hoping that its new plan would highlight its "strategic autonomy" from the United States in the Pacific region. Instead, the EU was eclipsed by AUKUS and exposed as a paper tiger. Adding insult to injury, Australia announced that as part of the AUKUS deal, it had cancelled a multi-billion-dollar submarine contract — once dubbed the "contract of the century" — under which France was to supply Australia with 12 diesel-powered submarines. Instead, Australia said that it would be buying nuclear submarines from the United States. France has reacted angrily to its change of fortunes. French Foreign Minister called AUKUS a "stab in the back." The French Ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thébault, said that Australia's decision to cancel the submarine deal was akin to "treason." The French government claimed that the Australian decision caught Paris by surprise, but the subsequent leak of a text message between Macron and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed that Macron knew well in advance that Australia was planning to cancel the contract. The AUKUS humiliation set Macron into a rage and appears to be fueling his increasingly frenzied calls for "strategic autonomy." An advisor to Macron said: "We could turn a blind eye and act as if nothing had happened. We think that would be a mistake for all Europeans. There really is an opportunity here." So far, however, only Italy and Greece have come out in support of Macron's calls for an autonomous EU military force. In September 2021, France and Greece signed a new defense and security agreement in which France pledged to provide military assistance to Greece in the event of an attack by a third country, even if such a country, Turkey, is a member of NATO. Macron said the deal, worth $3 billion to France, was a "milestone" in European defense because it strengthened the EU's "strategic autonomy." Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis described the Greek-French defense deal "a first step towards the strategic autonomy of Europe." But some in the EU were skeptical of the deal and are concerned it will only serve to inflame tensions between Greece and Turkey. "It is a bit bizarre to say the pact contributes to European sovereignty," an unnamed EU diplomat told Politico. "By all accounts, this is a traditional 19th-century defense pact between two European powers." Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, in an interview with the Danish newspaper Politiken, said that Macron was escalating his dispute with the United States way out of proportion: "I think it is important to say, in relation to the discussions that are taking place right now in Europe, that I experience U.S. President Joe Biden as being very loyal to the transatlantic alliance. "I think in general that one should refrain from lifting some specific challenges, which will always exist between allies, up to a level where they are not supposed to be. I really, really want to warn against this." Meanwhile, the British newspaper, The Telegraph, on September 22 reported that Macron had offered to put France's seat on the United Nations Security Council "at the disposal of the European Union" if its governments back Macron's plans for an EU army. The French Presidency later denied the report: "Contrary to the assertions reported this morning, no, France has not offered to leave its seat on the United Nations Security Council. It belongs to France, and it will remain so." France assumes the EU's six-month rotating presidency on January 1, 2022. During that time, Macron is sure to continue pushing for "strategic autonomy" from the United States, including at a "Summit on European Defense" scheduled for the first half of 2022. Select Commentary Analysts James Jay Carafano and Stefano Graziosi, in an essay, "Europe's Strategic Autonomy Fallacy," wrote: "Strategic autonomy might sound empowering, but it remains little more than a distraction and irritant to the transatlantic community and the real issues. European nations need more national defense capacity. Europe needs a strong, innovative, and productive defense industrial base, and Europeans need to take collective security and its role in a Europe whole, free, prosperous and at peace seriously. These problems can be better addressed by building the militaries the Europeans need than the fantasies Brussels wants." A senior Tory MP, Bob Seely, warned: "If the EU Army undermines NATO, or results in the separation of the U.S. and Europe or produces a paper army, Europe will be committing the most enfeebling and dangerous act of self-harm since the rise of fascism in the 1930s. An EU Army will amount to European de-arming." EU affairs expert Dave Keating noted: "The problem is that while leaders like Macron have tasked the Commission to make the EU more geopolitically strong, he and others still refuse to give the Commission the tools that would make it strong. For the last decade, the European Council has consistently opposed measures that would strengthen the Commission, because it would mean diluting the power of national governments.... "EU national leaders are all well aware of the need for Europe to speak with one voice if it ever wants to be taken seriously on the global stage. But their natural instinct to preserve their own power gets in the way of achieving this goal." In an interview with France 24, the French state-owned television network, Richard Whitman, a professor of politics and international relations at the University of Kent, said: "It will be hard to convince some member states that collective EU defense would bring the same security as NATO's U.S.-backed defense arrangement. Nobody in the EU has ever been able to come up with a decision-making arrangement that takes national divides into account while facilitating expeditious decision-making; it's either the lowest common denominator or grand rhetorical comments tied to absurd propositions. Military action is politically defensible only when taken by national leaders and parliaments — and it's difficult to see that being worked around." Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Walter Russell Mead noted that the entire premise of European leaders that the United States was "disengaging" from international affairs was based on a "significant misunderstanding." He wrote: "Many Europeans, including some seasoned observers of the trans-Atlantic scene, believe that if the U.S. sees the Indo-Pacific as the primary focus of its foreign policy, it must be writing off the rest of the world. These observers look at the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and imagine that this is the kind of headlong retreat they can expect from America in Europe and the Middle East. "This is unlikely. American interests are global, and American presidents, like it or not, can't confine their attention to a single world theater." Polish analyst Łukasz Maślanka tweeted that the French arguments for "strategic autonomy" from the United States are lacking in substance: "French reports from the European Council summit in Slovenia assess Macron's chances of convincing Europeans to EU defense. A critical tone prevails against the reluctant Balts and Poles who still stubbornly believe in NATO despite the U.S.'s allegedly inevitable withdrawal from Europe. "However, it is French observers who lack lucidity: the U.S. presence in Central Europe has been growing, not diminishing in recent years. It is many times greater not only than what France currently delivers, but what it could ever deliver. "Finally, if the U.S. really did intend to turn its back on Europe, the dismay in Paris would be no less than in Warsaw. It's harmful to drive something that can finally become a self-fulfilling prophecy." The London-based magazine, The Economist, wrote that Europeans feel "unnerved" by Macron's push for "strategic autonomy" from the United States: "Most of them, especially those near the Russian border, are happy to rely on America's security guarantee. Few share France's willingness to splurge on defense, or its expeditionary military culture. (Germany, especially, does not.) Nobody agrees what 'strategic autonomy' actually means. Low odds, however, seldom deter Mr. Macron. After the latest snub, the unhugged French president will doubtless conclude that he has little choice but to keep trying." John Krieger, writing for the UK-based The Spectator, noted: "Given that Emmanuel Macron has nailed his colors to the mast on driving European integration deeper, a refusal by European member states to follow suit would be embarrassing and not a good omen for his forthcoming presidency of the EU in January." Kristjan Mäe, head of the Estonian defense ministry's NATO and EU department said: "The EU is not a credible substitute for what NATO represents. You will not see any appetite for the European army amongst member states." Analyst Brooks Tigner, writing for the Atlantic Council, concluded: "Even if national capitals wanted to lunge for a common army, there are so many technical, legal, and administrative differences between their militaries that it would take decades to produce a smoothly functioning force. "Those differences boil down to some of the most mundane things such as soldiers' rights. Strong unions representing military personnel in rich Scandinavian countries, for instance, ensure that their soldiers enjoy levels of physical comfort, hardship pay, and access to medical care that their equivalents in poorer southern EU countries can only dream of for an exercise, much less an actual operation. Whose union rules would govern a common European army? And how would that be financed? "The differences are even sharper at the strategic level when it comes to intelligence. As a whole, the EU countries (and those of NATO as well) do not trust one another with sensitive information: it is parceled out very parsimoniously from one capital to a few trusted others. It would never work for a truly common army. Changing that alone via twenty-five-way trust for intelligence-sharing within PESCO would take years and years. Some deem it impossible. "Conclusion: any talk of creating a fully-fledged common army, even within the next generation, is just that: jaw-jaw and not real-real." Tyler Durden Sat, 11/13/2021 - 08:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 13th, 2021