Economy Week Ahead: Inflation, Jobless Claims, Retail Sales

The outlook for the global economy darkened as a stream of data from Europe and Asia suggested growth faltered in the third quarter, hobbled by world-wide supply-chain snarls, sharply accelerating inflation and the impact of the highly contagious Delta variant.

U.S. inflation accelerated last month and remained at its highest rate in over a decade, with price increases from pandemic-related labor and materials shortages rippling through the economy from a year earlier.

The Labor Department said last month’s consumer-price index, which measures what consumers pay for goods and services, rose by 5.4%

The gap between yields on shorter- and longer-term Treasury’s narrowed Wednesday after data showed inflation accelerated slightly in September, fueled by investors’ bets that the Federal Reserve may need to tighten monetary policy sooner than expected. Measures of inflation in China and the U.S. highlight this week’s economic data.

China’s exports, long a growth engine for the country’s economy, are expected to increase 21% from a year earlier in September, according to economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. That is down from a 25.6% gain in August. Meanwhile, inbound shipments are forecast to rise 19.1% from a year earlier, retreating from the 33.1% jump in August.

The International Monetary Fund releases its World Economic Outlook report during annual meetings. The latest forecasts are likely to underscore the relatively quick economic rebound of advanced economies alongside a slower recovery in developing nations with less access to Covid-19 vaccines.

China’s factory-gate prices for September are expected to surge 10.4% from a year earlier, a pace that would surpass its previous peak in 2008, according to economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. Higher commodity costs have led to the rise in producer prices this year, but so far that hasn’t fed through to consumer inflation. Economists forecast the consumer-price index rose only 0.7% from a year earlier in September.

September’s U.S. consumer-price index is expected to show inflation remained elevated as companies passed along higher costs for materials and labor. Rising energy prices likely contributed to the headline CPI, while core prices, which exclude food and energy, might start to reflect climbing shelter costs.

The Federal Reserve releases minutes from its September meeting, potentially offering additional insight on plans to start reducing pandemic-related stimulus.

U.S. jobless claims are forecast to fall for the second consecutive week as employers hold on to workers in a tight labor market. The data on claims, a proxy for layoffs, will cover the week ended Oct. 9.

U.S. retail sales are expected to fall in September. U.S. consumers appear to be in decent financial shape, but Covid-related caution, rising prices and widespread supply-chain disruptions are tamping down purchases. The auto industry has been especially hard hit by a semiconductor shortage—separate data released earlier this month show U.S. vehicle sales in September fell to their lowest level since early in the pandemic.

By: WSJ staff

Source: Economy Week Ahead: Inflation, Jobless Claims, Retail Sales – TechiLive.in

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IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast Amid Supply Chain Disruptions, Pandemic Pressures

The IMF, a grouping made up of 190 member states, promotes international financial stability and monetary cooperation. It also acts as a lender of last resort for countries in financial crisis.

In the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook report released on Tuesday, the group’s economists say the most important policy priority is to vaccinate sufficient numbers of people in every country to prevent dangerous mutations of the virus. He stressed the importance of meeting major economies’ pledges to provide vaccines and financial support for international vaccination efforts before new versions derail. “Policy choices have become more difficult … with limited scope,” IMF economists said in the report.

The IMF in its July report cut its global growth forecast for 2021 from 6% to 5.9%, a result of a reduction in its projection for advanced economies from 5.6% to 5.2%. The shortage mostly reflects problems with the global supply chain that causes a mismatch between supply and demand.

For emerging markets and developing economies, the outlook improved. Growth in these economies is pegged at 6.4% for 2021, higher than the 6.3% estimate in July. The strong performance of some commodity-exporting countries accelerated amid rising energy prices.

The group maintained its view that the global growth rate would be 4.9% in 2022.

In key economics, the growth outlook for the US was lowered by 0.1 percentage point to 6% this year, while the forecast for China was also cut by 0.1 percentage point to 8%. Several other major economies saw their outlook cut, including Germany, whose economy is now projected to grow 3.1% this year, down 0.5 percent from its July forecast. Japan’s outlook was down 0.4 per cent to 2.4%.

While the IMF believes that inflation will return to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022, it also warns that the negative effects of inflation could be exacerbated if the pandemic-related supply-chain disruptions become more damaging and prolonged. become permanent over time. This may result in earlier tightening of monetary policy by central banks, leading to recovery back.

The IMF says that supply constraints, combined with stimulus-based consumer appetite for goods, have caused a sharp rise in consumer prices in the US, Germany and many other countries.

Food-price hikes have placed a particularly severe burden on households in poor countries. The IMF’s Food and Beverage Price Index rose 11.1% between February and August, with meat and coffee prices rising 30% and 29%, respectively.

The IMF now expects consumer-price inflation in advanced economies to reach 2.8% in 2021 and 2.3% in 2022, up from 2.4% and 2.1%, respectively, in its July report. Inflationary pressures are even greater in emerging and developing economies, with consumer prices rising 5.5% this year and 4.9% the following year.

Gita Gopinath, economic advisor and research director at the IMF, wrote, “While monetary policy can generally see through a temporary increase in inflation, central banks should be prepared to act swiftly if the risks to rising inflation expectations are high. become more important in this unchanged recovery.” Report.

While rising commodity prices have fueled some emerging and developing economies, many of the world’s poorest countries have been left behind, as they struggle to gain access to the vaccines needed to open their economies. More than 95% of people in low-income countries have not been vaccinated, in contrast to immunization rates of about 60% in wealthy countries.

IMF economists urged major economies to provide adequate liquidity and debt relief for poor countries with limited policy resources. “The alarming divergence in economic prospects remains a major concern across the country,” said Ms. Gopinath.

By: Yuka Hayashi

Yuka Hayashi covers trade and international economy from The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau. Previously, she wrote about financial regulation and elder protection. Before her move to Washington in 2015, she was a Journal correspondent in Japan covering regional security, economy and culture. She has also worked for Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters in New York and Tokyo. Follow her on Twitter @tokyowoods

Source: IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast Amid Supply-Chain Disruptions, Pandemic Pressures – WSJ

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East Asia’s Economies Face Slowing Growth and Rising Inequality, World Bank Warns

HONG KONG—Most countries in East Asia face major setbacks in recovering from the coronavirus, the World Bank said, adding to concerns that the resurgent pandemic will widen the economic divide between the region and the Western world.

With the notable exception of China, economic activity across the region has sputtered since the second quarter amid outbreaks of the Delta variant of the coronavirus and relatively slow vaccine rollouts, leading some multilateral institutions to cut growth forecasts for most economies in the region and warn about longer-term problems such as rising inequality.

Overall, the economy of East Asia and the Pacific is on track to expand by 7.5% this year, according to forecasts released Tuesday by the World Bank Group, up from its April forecast of 7.4%. But that improvement is all China, now expected to grow 8.5%, up from 8.1%. The outlook for the rest of the region worsened, with the bank now forecasting growth of just 2.5% this year, down from 4.4% in April.

“The economic recovery of developing East Asia and Pacific faces a reversal of fortune,” said Manuela Ferro, an economist at the Washington, D.C.-based institution. The U.S. economy is expected to outpace the world as a whole by expanding 6% this year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast last week.

In Asia, meanwhile, the pandemic’s persistence threatens to deliver “an impoverishing double whammy of slow growth and increasing inequality,” the World Bank warned, calling it the first time the region has faced such an outlook since the turn of the century. The bank sees 24 million more people below the poverty line in Asia this year than it projected earlier.

Last week, the Manila-based Asia Development Bank cut its growth outlook for developing Asia to 7.1%, from 7.3% in April, in large part because Covid-19 outbreaks led to major lockdowns that slowed manufacturing activity in Southeast Asia, a regional export hub. The ADB now forecasts 3.1% growth this year for Southeast Asia, where countries have struggled to ramp up vaccinations, down from 4.4% previously.

Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia are among the countries that have imposed lockdowns and social-distancing rules in recent months as Covid-19 infections surged. That has exacerbated global supply-chain disruptions, delaying production of finished goods from clothes to cars as well as commodities, including coffee and palm oil.

Vaccination rates have picked up in Asia, though they still trail the West. As of the end of August, less than one-third of the region’s population had been fully vaccinated, compared with 52% in the U.S. and 58% in the European Union, according to the ADB.

The World Bank predicts that most Asian countries will push vaccination rates up to 60% by the first half of 2022, which it says will allow for a fuller resumption of economic activity—though it won’t be enough to eliminate infections.

Moreover, Asia’s advantage in the global goods trade—a bright spot for the region for much of the past year—is expected to fade.

Export demand for a range of goods, such as machinery and consumer electronics, has slipped as companies and individuals from richer Western countries shift their spending patterns. Supply capacity in those markets has also started to normalize, while higher shipping costs risk further eroding appetite for imports from Asia.

“Global goods import demand peaked in the second quarter of 2020 and regional exports face stronger competitions as other regions recover,” says the World Bank report.

MARKET TRENDS

We have revised our forecast for China’s 2021 growth from 8.4% to 8.2% to account for recent COVID outbreaks and economic underperformance.,China is experiencing a rash of COVID outbreaks driven by the Delta variant. New cases have emerged in cities across the country, such as Nanjing, Ningbo, and Wuhan.,Several indicators signaled a slowdown in July relative to June: industrial value-added growth fell from 8.8% YOY to 8.3% YOY; retail sales growth slowed from 12.1% YOY to 8.5% YOY; urban unemployment rose from 5.0% to 5.1%.

KEY DEVELOPMENTS

Xi Jinping is shifting the government’s focus away from pursuing growth at any cost toward sharing the fruits of growth more evenly across society. This push is reflected in the rising use of the phrase “common prosperity,” which has started to appear frequently in communications across the government, schools, and media.,While the details behind the “common prosperity” push are not yet clear and policy implementation timelines may be extended, the implications of this shift will be wide-ranging.

In the coming years, China’s leadership will show less forbearance to wealthy individuals and large corporations; instead, it will expect them to support its goals for social equality through measures like direct transfers, donations, program development, and tax changes.,China’s regulatory landscape will also shift in favor of industries that are seen to serve lower-income segments and against those seen to serve higher-income segments. For example, companies serving rural and less developed parts of the country are likely to receive a helping hand, while companies selling luxury items and high-end real estate are likely to face increased barriers in the market.

By: Stella Yifan Xie at stella.xie@wsj.com

Source: East Asia’s Economies Face Slowing Growth and Rising Inequality, World Bank Warns – WSJ

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Asian Stocks Mixed as Data Show Delta Sapped China: Markets Wrap

Asian stocks were mixed Tuesday as weaker economic activity in China and the latest escalation in Beijing’s crackdown on private industries overshadowed another record close on Wall Street.

Equities slipped in China, where data signaled that an outbreak of the delta virus variant led to a service-sector contraction for the first time since February last year. Hong Kong slid as Beijing’s stepped-up curbs on video-gaming firms weighed on Chinese technology stocks.

U.S. futures edged up after the S&P 500 hit its 12th all-time high in August and the Nasdaq 100 rose. Treasuries held gains made following Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s measured comments about a possible reduction in stimulus and any future interest-rate hikes. The dollar dipped.

Oil declined, with traders assessing the prospect of additional OPEC+ production. Aluminum and nickel advanced as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raise target prices. In cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin fell to about $47,000.

Global stocks overall are set for a seventh monthly advance on strong company profits, expanding vaccinations to underpin economic reopening and supportive Fed policies. At the same time, the decline in Treasury yields from a March peak may partly reflect concerns of a slower recovery ahead on risks such as the impact of the delta strain.

“The bond market is getting a little nervous about the economic outlook,” Priya Misra, head of global interest rate strategy at TD Securities, said on Bloomberg Television. But she added the U.S. economy is “strong” and that “by year end, if the economy holds up, which we forecast it will, that’s when we expect rates — especially in the long end — to start to edge higher.”

In the latest U.S. data, pending home sales fell in July. Traders are awaiting key payrolls figures Friday for further guidance on the economy’s strength.

Here are some key events to watch this week:

OPEC+ meeting on output WednesdayEuro zone manufacturing PMI WednesdayU.S. jobs report Friday

Some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

S&P 500 futures climbed 0.2% as of 1:42 p.m. in Tokyo. The S&P 500 rose 0.4%Nasdaq 100 futures increased 0.1%. The Nasdaq 100 rose 1.1%Japan’s Topix index rose 0.7%Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6%South Korea’s Kospi added 0.8%Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.4%China’s Shanghai Composite index retreated 0.8%

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index shed 0.1%The euro was at $1.1818The Japanese yen was at 109.88 per dollarThe offshore yuan was at 6.4660 per dollar

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries held at 1.28%

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude was at $68.90 a barrel, down 0.5%Gold was at $1,815.12 an ounce, up 0.3%

By:

Source: Stock Market Today: Dow, S&P Live Updates for Aug. 31, 2021 – Bloomberg

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From Miners To Big Oil, The Great Commodity Cash Machine is Back, Energy & Commodities

JUST over five years ago, Anglo American was in deep trouble. The natural resources giant, beset by a collapse in commodity prices, scrapped its dividend and announced plans to close mines and cut thousands of workers. Amid talk of an emergency capital raise, its market value fell to less than US$3 billion.

Last week, the trials of 2016 probably seemed like a parallel universe to its chief executive officer Mark Cutifani.

Fuelled by a rally in iron ore and other commodity prices, he announced record first-half earnings and billions in dividends. Anyone who took a punt on Anglo’s shares when they reached their nadir, would have seen a 14-fold increase as the market capitalization soared to US$55 billion.

“High commodity prices have been very important to us,” Mr Cutifani told investors last week. “We don’t think this is as good as it gets.”

Anglo American is one of many. With raw materials prices surging, the whole natural resources sector is showering shareholders with special dividends and buybacks as miners, oil drillers, trading houses, steelmakers and farmers reap billions in windfall profits.

The sector, marked down by investors because of its contribution to climate change and a reputation of squandering money on mega projects, is again a great cash machine.

The economic rebound from last year’s Covid slump has powered an explosive rally in commodity prices as consumers forgo vacations and dining out and spend their money loading up on physical goods instead: everything from patio heaters to start-of-the-art TVs. Politicians are helping, too, lavishing hundreds of billions on resource-heavy infrastructure projects.

The Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index, a basket of nearly two dozen raw materials, surged to a 10-year high last week and is rapidly closing in on the record set in 2011.

Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, has again surged above US$75 a barrel, copper is headed back towards US$10,000 a tonne, European natural gas is at its highest ever for the summer season, and steel is changing hands at unprecedented levels. Agricultural commodities such as corn, soya beans and wheat are also expensive.

“Demand continues to improve with increasing global vaccinations,” Joe Gorder, the chief executive of Valero Energy, one of the world’s largest oil refiners, said last week.

Even commodities long left for dead, like thermal coal, are enjoying a new life in 2021. Coal, burned in power stations to produce electricity, together with huge volumes of carbon emissions, is trading at a 10-year high.

While commodities prices are the main reason behind the turnaround, there are structural factors at play as well.

Miners and oil companies have cut spending in new projects savagely, creating a supply shortfall. The miners were first, as they curbed investment from 2015 to 2016 as investors demanded more discipline; oil companies followed up last year and some major energy companies last week announced further cuts in spending for 2021.

The result is that while demand is surging, supply is not – at least for now. The oil majors are benefiting too from the work of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries alliance of oil producers, which is still holding back a large share of output.

Anglo American, which announced US$4 billion in dividends, is probably the most remarkable turnaround story in the natural resources sector, but its profits were still dwarfed by its bigger rivals. Rio Tinto and Vale, the world’s two leading iron ore miners, together vowed to hand back more than US$17 billion in dividends recently. There is still more to come for investors, with both BHP, the world’s biggest miner, and Glencore, another big miner and commodity trader, yet to report.

And for once, the world’s biggest steelmakers were not only able to absorb the costs, but pass them on. An industry that has spent much of the last decade in crisis is now also able to reward long-suffering shareholders.

The world’s largest steelmaker outside China, ArcelorMittal, that was forced to sell shares and scrap its dividend just five years ago, posted its best results since 2008 last week and announced a US$2.2 billion share buyback programme.

The miners have stolen the spotlight from the energy industry, traditionally the biggest dividend payer in the natural resources industry.

Still, Big Oil recovered from the historic price collapse of 2020, when a vicious Saudi-Russian price war and the Covid-19 pandemic briefly sent the value of West Texas Intermediate, the US oil benchmark, below zero. Supported by rising oil, natural gas, and, above all, the chemicals that go into plastics, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, and TotalEnergies delivered profits that went to pre-covid levels.

With cash flow surging, Shell, which last year cut its dividend for the first time since World War II, was able to hike it nearly 40 per cent, and announced an additional US$2 billion in buybacks. “We wanted to signal to the market the confidence that we have in cash flows,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said.

Chevron and Total also announced they will buy shares. Exxon, though, is still licking its wounds and focused on paying down debt.

The more opaque world of commodity trading has also cashed in. Glencore said last week that it was expecting bigger trading profits than forecast, with rivals Vitol and Trafigura, two of the world’s largest oil traders, also benefiting from lucrative opportunities created by rocketing prices.

The agricultural traders have cashed on higher prices and unusually strong demand from China.

Bunge, a trader that is the world’s largest crusher of soya beans, told investors it expected to deliver its best earnings-per-share since its initial public offer two decades ago. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co, another big American grain trader and processor, also flagged strong earnings. And Cargill, the world’s largest agricultural trader, is heading towards record earnings in its 2021 fiscal year.

Whether the natural resources boom can last is hotly contested. Many investors worry climate change makes the long-term future of the industry hard to read and they also fret about the tendency of executives to approve expensive projects at the peak of the cycle.

Mining executives fear Chinese demand will slow down at some point, hitting iron ore in particular. But the current lack of investments may support other commodities, like copper and oil.

But Shell’s Mr van Beurden summed up the bullish case last week: “Supply is going to be constrained, and demand is actually quite strong”. BLOOMBERG

Source: From miners to Big Oil, the great commodity cash machine is back, Energy & Commodities – THE BUSINESS TIMES

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Why Wall Street Is Afraid of Government-Backed Digital Dollar

Imagine Imagine logging on to your own account with the U.S. Federal Reserve. With your laptop or phone, you could zap cash anywhere instantly. There’d be no middlemen, no fees, no waiting for deposits or payments to clear.

That vision sums up the appeal of the digital dollar, the dream of futurists and the bane of bankers. It’s not the Bitcoin bros and other cryptocurrency fans pushing the disruptive idea but America’s financial and political elite. Fed Chair Jerome Powell promises fresh research and a set of policy questions for Congress to ponder this summer. J. Christopher Giancarlo, a former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is rallying support through the nonprofit Digital Dollar Project, a partnership with consulting giant Accenture Plc. To perpetuate American values such as free enterprise and the rule of law, “we should modernize the dollar,” he recently told a U.S. Senate banking subcommittee.

For now the dollar remains the premier global reserve currency and preferred legal tender for international trade and financial transactions. But a new flavor of cryptocurrency could pose a threat to that dominance, which is part of the reason the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has been working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on developing prototypes for a digital-dollar platform.

Other governments, notably China’s, are ahead in digitizing their currencies. In these nations, regulators worry that the possibilities for fraud are multiplying as more individuals embrace cryptocurrency. Steven Mnuchin, former President Donald Trump’s treasury secretary, said he saw no immediate need for a digital dollar. His successor, Janet Yellen, has expressed interest in studying it. Support for a virtual greenback cuts across party lines in Congress, which will have a say on whether it becomes reality.

At a hearing in June, Senators Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, and John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, signaled openness to the idea. Warren and other Democrats stressed the potential of the digital dollar to offer free services to low-income families who now pay high banking fees or are shut out of the system altogether.

Kennedy and fellow Republicans see a financial equivalent of the space race that pitted the U.S. against the Soviet Union—a battle for prestige, power, and first-mover advantage. This time the adversary is China, which announced this month that more than 10 million citizens are now eligible to participate in ongoing trials.

The strongest opposition to a virtual dollar will come from U.S. banks. They rely on $17 trillion in deposits to fund much of their core business, profiting from the difference between what they pay in interest to account holders and what they charge for loans. Banks also earn billions of dollars annually from overdraft, ATM, and account maintenance fees. By creating a digital currency, the Federal Reserve would in effect be competing with banks for customers.

In a recent blog post, Greg Baer, president of the Bank Policy Institute, which represents the industry, warned that homebuyers, businesses, and other customers would find it harder and more expensive to borrow money if the Fed were to infringe on the private sector’s historical central role in finance. “The Federal Reserve would gain extraordinary power,” wrote Baer, a former assistant treasury secretary in the Clinton administration.

Some economists warn that a digital dollar could destabilize the banking system. The federal government offers bank depositors $250,0000 in insurance, a program that’s successfully prevented bank runs since the Great Depression. But in a 2008-style financial panic, depositors might with a single click pull all their savings out of banks and convert them into direct obligations of the U.S. government.

“In a crisis, this may actually make matters worse,” says Eswar Prasad, a professor at Cornell University and the author of a book on digital currencies that will be published in September. Whether a virtual dollar is even necessary remains up for debate. For large companies, cross-border interbank payments are already fast, limiting the appeal of digital currencies. Early adopters of Bitcoin may have won an investment windfall as its value soared, but its volatility makes it a poor substitute for a reliable government-backed currency such as the dollar.

Yet there’s a new kind of crypto, called stablecoin, that could pose a threat to the dollar’s dominance. Similar to the other digital currencies, it’s essentially a string of code tracked and authenticated via an online ledger. But it has a crucial difference from Bitcoin and its ilk: Its value is pegged to a sovereign currency like the dollar, so it offers stability as well as privacy.

In June 2019, Facebook Inc. announced it was developing a stablecoin called Libra ( since renamed Diem). The social media giant’s 2.85 billion active users worldwide represent a huge test market. “That was a game changer,” Prasad says. “That served as a catalyst for a lot of central banks.”

Regulators also have concerns about consumer protection. Stablecoin is only as stable as the network of private participants who manage it on the web. Should something go wrong, holders could find themselves empty-handed. That prospect places pressure on governments to come up with their own alternatives.

Although the Fed has been studying the idea of a digital dollar since at least 2017, crucial details, including what role private institutions will play, remain unresolved. In the Bahamas, the only country with a central bank digital currency, authorized financial institutions are allowed to offer e-wallets for handling sand dollars, the virtual counterpart to the Bahamian dollar.

If depositors flocked to the virtual dollar, banks would need to find another way to fund their loans. Advocates of a digital dollar float the possibility of the Fed lending to banks so they could write loans. To help banks preserve deposits, the government could also set a ceiling on how much digital currency citizens can hold. In the Bahamas the amount is capped at $8,000.

Lev Menand, an Obama administration treasury adviser, cautions against such compromises, saying the priority should be offering unfettered access to a central bank digital currency, or CBDC. Menand, who now lectures at Columbia Law School, says that because this idea would likely require the passage of legislation, Congress faces a big decision: to create “a robust CBDC or a skim milk sort of product that has been watered down as a favor to big banks.”

By: Christopher Condon

Source: Cryptocurrency: Why Wall Street Is Afraid of Government-Backed Digital Dollar – Bloomberg

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Critics:

Wall Street is warming up to the idea that the next big disruptive force on the horizon is central bank digital currencies, even though the Federal Reserve likely remains a few years away from developing its own.

Led by countries as large as China and as small as the Bahamas, digital money is drawing stronger interest as the future of an increasingly cashless society. A digital dollar would resemble cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or ethereum in some limited respects, but differ in important ways.

Rather than be a tradable asset with wildly fluctuating prices and limited use, the central bank digital currency would function more like dollars and have widespread acceptance. It also would be fully regulated and under a central authority.

Myriad questions remain before an institution as large as the Fed will wade in. But the momentum is building around the world. As the Fed and other central banks work through those logistical issues, Wall Street is growing in anticipation over what the future will hold.

“The race towards Digital Money 2.0 is on,” Citigroup said in a report. “Some have framed it as a new Space Race or Digital Currency Cold War. In our view, it doesn’t have to be a zero sum game — there’s a lot of room for the overall digital pie to grow.”

There, however, has been at least the semblance of a race, and China is perceived as taking the early lead. With the launch of a digital yuan last year, some fear that the edge China has ultimately could undermine the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. Though China said that is not its objective, a Bank of America report notes that issuing digital dollars would let the U.S. currency “remain highly competitive … relative to other currencies.”

References:

Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

Delta fears are growing, central banks face challenges and the shape of the U.K. and Europe post-Brexit continues to form. Here’s what’s moving markets.

Delta Fears

Concern about the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant is growing and those fears helped fuel a rise in Moderna shares to a record high after the drugmaker said its vaccine produces protective antibodies against the strain. The medicine was approved for restricted emergency use in India, where little more than 4% of the population is so far fully vaccinated. The variant is rippling through emerging markets, with more curbs in Indonesia and warnings of a potentially “catastrophic” wave in Kenya. A widening gap in vaccination rates in the U.S. also shows the risks faces to certain regions.

Policy Challenges

The major challenge for central banks is going to be how to wean the global economy off the unprecedented support they have deployed to deal with the disruption Covid-19 has caused. U.S. and European confidence data is soaring, underlining the rebound the economy is experiencing, while China’s central bank has also struck a more positive tone. Some more data points will arrive for policymakers to mull over on Wednesday, led by U.K. GDP and European inflation numbers.

Brexit Shifts

Paris is JPMorgan’s new trading center in the European Union post-Brexit as the U.S. banking giant inaugurated a new headquarters in the French capital. It is a victory for France in the ongoing race with other European countries to lure business from London after the referendum to leave the EU. It comes as the U.K. government unveiled a system of overseeing subsidies to companies, promising “more agile” decisions. And the U.K. is expecting to reach a truce in the so-called “sausage wars’’ with the EU over post-Brexit trading rules in Northern Ireland.

OPEC+ Delay

OPEC and its allies have delayed preliminary talks for a day to create more time to find a compromise on oil-output increases. It comes with crude oil prices on track for the best half of a year since 2009. Surging commodity prices are creating all sorts of headaches for policy makers, from rising inflation expectations that could move the hand of central bankers to a higher cost in shifting to more sustainable energy sources. This has initially led to a surge in profit for commodity trading houses but will end up hitting consumers down the road through higher prices.

Asian stocks mostly rose following a record close in the U.S. on signs that vaccines can protect against the delta variant of the coronavirus. European and U.S. stock futures are steady. The earnings calendar is relatively thin but watch for the reaction to two long-running takeover sagas moving toward a conclusion.

EssilorLuxottica, the eyewear giant, decided to go ahead with the acquisition of smaller peer GrandVision and the board of France’s Suez has backed its takeover by rival Veolia. And the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development meets in Paris to finalize plans to overhaul the global minimum corporate tax.

What We’ve Been Reading

This is what’s caught our eye over the past 24 hours. 

And finally, here’s what Cormac Mullen is interested in this morning

With just one more day of trading in the first half of 2021 to go, global stocks are on track for their second-best performance since 1998. If the MSCI AC World Index’s gain of about 12% through June 29 holds, it would be beaten only by a 15% rise in 2019. The global stock benchmark closed at a record on June 28, and has risen almost 90% since its pandemic low in March 2020.

As we begin the second half, investor focus will soon switch to the upcoming earnings season. The second quarter could well mark peak earnings growth so comments on the outlook will be key for stock performance as will the impact of rising costs on margins. Outside of that, the same themes that dominated the first half will monopolize the second, and whether we get an equally strong next six months will likely depend on the path of other asset classes most notably bonds.

By: and

Source: Stock Markets Today: Delta Variant, Central Banks, Brexit Changes, OPEC+ – Bloomberg

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Critics:

A financial crisis is any of a broad variety of situations in which some financial assets suddenly lose a large part of their nominal value. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many financial crises were associated with banking panics, and many recessions coincided with these panics. Other situations that are often called financial crises include stock market crashes and the bursting of other financial bubbles, currency crises, and sovereign defaults. Financial crises directly result in a loss of paper wealth but do not necessarily result in significant changes in the real economy (e.g. the crisis resulting from the famous tulip mania bubble in the 17th century).

Many economists have offered theories about how financial crises develop and how they could be prevented. There is no consensus, however, and financial crises continue to occur from time to time. Negative GDP growth lasting two or more quarters is called a recession. An especially prolonged or severe recession may be called a depression, while a long period of slow but not necessarily negative growth is sometimes called economic stagnation.

Some economists argue that many recessions have been caused in large part by financial crises. One important example is the Great Depression, which was preceded in many countries by bank runs and stock market crashes. The subprime mortgage crisis and the bursting of other real estate bubbles around the world also led to recession in the U.S. and a number of other countries in late 2008 and 2009.

Some economists argue that financial crises are caused by recessions instead of the other way around, and that even where a financial crisis is the initial shock that sets off a recession, other factors may be more important in prolonging the recession. In particular, Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz argued that the initial economic decline associated with the crash of 1929 and the bank panics of the 1930s would not have turned into a prolonged depression if it had not been reinforced by monetary policy mistakes on the part of the Federal Reserve,a position supported by Ben Bernanke.

See also

Specific:

 

 

World Economy is Suddenly Running Low on Everything

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A year ago, as the pandemic ravaged country after country and economies shuddered, consumers were the ones panic-buying. Today, on the rebound, it’s companies furiously trying to stock up. Mattress producers to car manufacturers to aluminum foil makers are buying more material than they need to survive the breakneck speed at which demand for goods is recovering and assuage that primal fear of running out. The frenzy is pushing supply chains to the brink of seizing up. Shortages, transportation bottlenecks and price spikes are nearing the highest levels in recent memory, raising concern that a supercharged global economy will stoke inflation.

Copper, iron ore and steel. Corn, coffee, wheat and soybeans. Lumber, semiconductors, plastic and cardboard for packaging. The world is seemingly low on all of it. “You name it, and we have a shortage on it,” Tom Linebarger, chairman and chief executive of engine and generator manufacturer Cummins Inc., said on a call this month. Clients are “trying to get everything they can because they see high demand,” Jennifer Rumsey, the Columbus, Indiana-based company’s president, said.“They think it’s going to extend into next year.”

The difference between the big crunch of 2021 and past supply disruptions is the sheer magnitude of it, and the fact that there is — as far as anyone can tell — no clear end in sight. Big or small, few businesses are spared. Europe’s largest fleet of trucks, Girteka Logistics, says there’s been a struggle to find enough capacity. Monster Beverage Corp. of Corona, California, is dealing with an aluminum can scarcity. Hong Kong’s MOMAX Technology Ltd. is delaying production of a new product because of a dearth of semiconductors.

Further exacerbating the situation is an unusually long and growing list of calamities that have rocked commodities in recent months. A freak accident in the Suez Canal backed up global shipping in March. Drought has wreaked havoc upon agricultural crops. A deep freeze and mass blackout wiped out energy and petrochemicals operations across the central U.S. in February. Less than two weeks ago, hackers brought down the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S., driving gasoline prices above $3 a gallon for the first time since 2014. Now India’s massive Covid-19 outbreak is threatening its biggest ports.

For anyone who thinks it’s all going to end in a few months, consider the somewhat obscure U.S. economic indicator known as the Logistics Managers’ Index. The gauge is built on a monthly survey of corporate supply chiefs that asks where they see inventory, transportation and warehouse expenses — the three key components of managing supply chains — now and in 12 months. The current index is at its second-highest level in records dating back to 2016, and the future gauge shows little respite a year from now. The index has proven unnervingly accurate in the past, matching up with actual costs about 90% of the time.

To Zac Rogers, who helps compile the index as an assistant professor at Colorado State University’s College of Business, it’s a paradigm shift. In the past, those three areas were optimized for low costs and reliability. Today, with e-commerce demand soaring, warehouses have moved from the cheap outskirts of urban areas to prime parking garages downtown or vacant department-store space where deliveries can be made quickly, albeit with pricier real estate, labor and utilities.

Once viewed as liabilities before the pandemic, fatter inventories are in vogue. Transport costs, more volatile than the other two, won’t lighten up until demand does. “Essentially what people are telling us to expect is that it’s going to be hard to get supply up to a place where it matches demand,” Rogers said, “and because of that, we’re going to continue to see some price increases over the next 12 months.” More well-known barometers are starting to reflect the higher costs for households and companies. An index of U.S. consumer prices that excludes food and fuel jumped in April from a month earlier by the most since 1982. At the factory gate, the increase in prices charged by American producers was twice as large as economists expected. Unless companies pass that cost along to consumers and boost productivity, it’ll eat into their profit margins.

A growing chorus of observers are warning that inflation is bound to quicken. The threat has been enough to send tremors through world capitals, central banks, factories and supermarkets. The U.S. Federal Reserve is facing new questions about when it will hike rates to stave off inflation — and the perceived political risk already threatens to upset President Joe Biden’s spending plans.“You bring all of these factors in, and it’s an environment that’s ripe for significant inflation, with limited levers” for monetary authorities to pull, said David Landau, chief product officer at BluJay Solutions, a U.K.-based logistics software and services provider.

Policy makers, however, have laid out a number of reasons why they don’t expect inflationary pressures to get out of hand. Fed Governor Lael Brainard said recently that officials should be “patient through the transitory surge.” Among the reasons for calm: The big surges lately are partly blamed on skewed comparisons to the steep drops of a year ago, and many companies that have held the line on price hikes for years remain reticent about them now. What’s more, U.S. retail sales stalled in April after a sharp rise in the month earlier, and commodities prices have recently retreated from multi-year highs.

Caught in the crosscurrents is Dennis Wolkin, whose family has run a business making crib mattresses for three generations. Economic expansions are usually good for baby bed sales. But the extra demand means little without the key ingredient: foam padding. There has been a run on the kind of polyurethane foam Wolkin uses — in part because of the deep freeze across the U.S. South in February, and because of “companies over-ordering and trying to hoard what they can.”

“It’s gotten out of control, especially in the past month,” said Wolkin, vice president of operations at Atlanta-based Colgate Mattress, a 35-employee company that sells products at Target stores and independent retailers. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”Though polyurethane foam is 50% more expensive than it was before the Covid-19 pandemic, Wolkin would buy twice the amount he needs and look for warehouse space rather than reject orders from new customers. “Every company like us is going to overbuy,” he said. Even multinational companies with digital supply-management systems and teams of people monitoring them are just trying to cope. Whirlpool Corp. CEO Marc Bitzer told Bloomberg Television this month its supply chain is “pretty much upside down” and the appliance maker is phasing in price increases. Usually Whirlpool and other large manufacturers produce goods based on incoming orders and forecasts for those sales. Now it’s producing based on what parts are available.

“It is anything but efficient or normal, but that is how you have to run it right now,” Bitzer said. “I know there’s talk of a temporary blip, but we do see this elevated for a sustained period.” The strains stretch all the way back to global output of raw materials and may persist because the capacity to produce more of what’s scarce — with either additional capital or labor — is slow and expensive to ramp up. Read more…..
By Brendan Murray, Enda Curran, Kim Chipman, Bloomberg

Source: World economy: World economy is suddenly running low on everything – The Economic Times

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References

“Research and development expenditure (% of GDP) | Data”. data.worldbank.org. Retrieved 12 December 2017

Is This The Beginning Of Amazon’s Meltdown?

Dystopia

When Amazon’s executives heard the news, they couldn’t believe it.

Last November, the world’s largest sporting goods company, Nike, announced it was leaving Amazon. It would yank all its products from Amazon.com and sell them exclusively on its online store.

Nike is the biggest retailer to break up with Amazon, but it’s not the first. From mom-and-pop stores to retail giants, more than one million businesses are ditching Amazon and selling online independently.

As I’ll explain in a moment, this is the beginning of the biggest disruption in retail since Amazon’s inception. And there’s one little-known stock driving it “behind the scenes.”

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The good news is this megatrend is still in the very early stages. It’s off the radar of many investors, which gives us a chance to cash in big time. But first, let me clue you in on what’s going on here.

For a Long Time, Retailers Depended on Amazon to Sell Online

As we all know, Amazon is king of online shopping. It runs the world’s biggest online store, which makes up more than half of online sales in the US.

What you may not know is that most of the stuff listed on Amazon.com are not products of Amazon. They come from other retailers known as “third-party sellers.” For a fee, Amazon has granted them permission to put their stuff on its “shelves.”

In 2007, only 26% of products sold on Amazon were from third-party sellers. Today, more than 53% of all Amazon products are from third-party sellers, according to Statista.

For a long time, Amazon has served as the online “storefront” for most retailers. But that’s quietly changing.

One Retailer After Another Is Leaving Amazon

Nike is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s a growing pack of retailers breaking ties with Amazon and launching their own online stores.

Take Birkenstock, one of the world’s most iconic footwear brands. In 2017, the company left Amazon altogether. It also issued a strict order to several thousand of its retail partners to pull all Birkenstock products from Amazon.

You also may be familiar with these brands:

  • Vans – one of America’s most iconic urban footwear and apparel companies
  • Ralph Lauren – another iconic American fashion lifestyle brand
  • Rolex… the biggest high-end watch company
  • Louis Vuitton, a French luxury fashion brand
  • Patagonia and North Face – some of the biggest outdoor clothing, footwear, and equipment brands

While you could find their products on Amazon listed by resellers—most of which are generic and dated models or knock-offs—none of these brands sell directly on Amazon.

These are just a few of many retail giants that ditched Amazon. There are a million more small retailers bypassing Amazon and selling stuff online independently.

Image result for amazon big size gif advertisementsAmazon Had the Upper Hand Against Retailers

Until very recently, the idea of a small or medium-size business competing with Amazon online was a joke. Because Amazon has it all.

In a few clicks, you can order stuff from thousands of retailers, and get it delivered to your doorstep the same day. For free! If you are short of cash, Amazon will give you credit. If you are not happy with your order, you take the package to the nearest UPS store and get a refund almost instantly.

To keep all this running smoothly, Amazon plows billions of dollars into its store. It operates more than 150 million square feet of warehouse space. Tens of thousands of its trucks and vans roam across the country. It even owns its own fleet of ocean freighters and cargo aircraft!

Who can match that? For years, going up against Amazon was suicide for a retailer. The only option for 99.99% of retailers was to partner with Amazon to sell their stuff on Amazon’s store.

Anyone Can Be Amazon Right Now

This may surprise you, but today any mom-and-pop store can run an online store as good as Amazon’s. Thanks to a new breed of tech companies, now you can easily farm out every step of the online store process—from shipping to returns and even one-day delivery.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • You can build an online store with Shopify (SHOP)
  • run guided advertising campaigns with Facebook or Instagram
  • handle payments with Stripe
  • give credit with Affirm
  • store your inventory and fulfill orders with ShipBob
  • Handle returns with Returnly
  • Even provide Amazon’s famous same-day delivery with DarkStore

All of them are charging either a small monthly fee or a little commission off sales. That means anyone with a couple hundred bucks can sell stuff online as effectively as Amazon.

A massive disruption is blowing in right before our very eyes. Just like the internet liberated retailers from brick-and-mortar stores, these companies are freeing them from Amazon’s clutches.

Shopify Is King of This Megatrend

If you’ve been reading me, you know that I recommended Shopify (SHOP) a month ago. Since then, it jumped 30%.

In short, Shopify helps you sell your products online on your own website. Just like Nike, Birkenstock, and other big-name retailers do.

For as little as $29/month, Shopify sets you up with a full-fledged custom online store. It can even hold your inventory in its warehouses and ship your products.

Since Shopify operates “behind the scenes,” you probably haven’t come across it when shopping online. But it’s already the world’s second-largest online shopping company.

It powers over 1,000,000 independent online stores. And get this, one in three Americans buy from a Shopify-powered store—without even realizing it.

Shopify Could Hand You a Double, but Be Careful

Since Shopify went public, it has been growing by leaps and bounds. In 2015, it had just 240,000 merchants, selling $7.7 billion worth of products through Shopify. Since then, it has grown into a million+ merchants grinding out 50+ billion in yearly sales.

As I said back in November, if Shopify keeps up this growth, I see it doubling by 2022. There’s one catch, though.

The stock has soared over 1,000% in just four years, and 30% more since I recommended it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the stock took a breather somewhere down the line. For this reason, I recommend keeping the position in this stock small enough that a double-digit drop wouldn’t hurt you.

Written with the assistance of Dainius Runkevičius.

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I’m a professional investor and the chief analyst at RiskHedge, a disruption research firm. My team and I hunt for under-the-radar “disruptive” companies that are changing the world and making investors rich in the process. Get my latest analysis at RiskHedge.com.

Source: Is This The Beginning Of Amazon’s Meltdown?

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