Zero Hedge

Panic And Desperation Sweep Across America As Fears Of A "Dark Winter" Continue To Rise

Panic And Desperation Sweep Across America As Fears Of A "Dark Winter" Continue To Rise Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 11:30

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Do you remember earlier this year when consumers were feverishly hoarding toilet paper and we were seeing colossal lines at food banks all over the nation during the initial stages of the COVID pandemic?  Well, it is happening again.  Now that the vote on November 3rd is behind us, the pandemic has once again become the primary focus of the mainstream media, and a lot of people are completely freaking out.  Just like earlier this year, store shelves across the country are being emptied because Americans don’t want to be stuck at home without enough toilet paper and hand sanitizer.  Each new restriction that gets announced adds to the frenzy, and it has gotten to the point where new restrictions are literally being announced around the nation on a daily basis now.  And if the case numbers that we are being given continue to rise, it is inevitable that this new wave of lockdowns will get even tighter.

Over the last several months, Joe Biden has repeatedly told us that we have a “dark winter” ahead.  Here is just one example

“There is a need for bold action to fight this pandemic,” Biden said in Delaware. “We’re still facing a very dark winter.”

Biden, whose campaign against President Donald Trump made the coronavirus a main focus, pledged to “spare no effort to turn this pandemic around once we’re sworn in on Jan. 20.”

Technically, winter doesn’t start until a little over a month from now, but the panic shopping has already begun.

In California, supplies of toilet paper are being voraciously gobbled up by fearful consumers…

Shoppers in Temecula had already emptied the paper and cleaning aisle in a local Walmart by Wednesday morning. Other storefronts, such as Trader Joes in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles and Ralphs on West 9th Street, were simply running low on such supplies.

A worker at a Costco in Los Angeles, who wished to remain anonymous, said the store was selling out of toilet paper every day, among other supplies, but also said that this could be attributed to the Thanksgiving holiday coming up next week.

Similar panic buying appears to be happening over in Spokane, Washington

In a tweet on Sunday afternoon, KREM photojournalist Roger Hatcher said Target in Spokane Valley was “pretty quiet” but its toilet paper shelves were bare.

In fact, shortages are being reported all over the nation at this point.

I don’t know why there is such a focus on toilet paper.  To me, having enough food to eat for an extended period of time is much more of a priority, but when people get fearful they don’t necessarily think rationally.

And certainly there is a bit of psychology to all of this.  When people are told that there is a “shortage” of something, many of them inevitably feel motivated to run out and buy some too while they still can.  The panic buying has reached such a frenzy that many large chains are once again starting to put purchase limits on certain items.  The following comes from CNN

At Kroger (KR), customers can purchase a maximum of two items when it comes to products like bath tissue, paper towels, disinfecting wipes and hand soap. Giant, a grocery chain in the Northeast, recently put a limit of one on purchases of larger toilet paper and paper towel sizes and four on smaller toilet paper and paper towel sizes.

H-E-B in Texas has implemented similar policies in recent weeks. Some H-E-B stores have instituted limits of two on purchases of disinfecting and antibacterial sprays, while other stores have limited toilet paper and paper towels to two.

This is just one of the reasons why I have always encouraged my readers to get prepared in advance.

If you have a large family, how long is two packages of toilet paper going to last you?

You could try to stretch out your supplies by limiting family members to a certain number of squares per defecation, but you will still run out very quickly.

When you try to prepare for any emergency at the last minute, you are almost certainly going to fall short.  One or two trips to the grocery store is not going to cut it, and anyone that thinks otherwise is simply being delusional.

Meanwhile, the decline in economic activity around the nation that is being caused by this new round of lockdowns is creating a renewed surge in economic desperation.

Just the other day I wrote about how some people were waiting in line for up to 12 hours to get handouts from a food bank in Texas, and on Wednesday it was being reported that “hundreds of cars” were lined up to get food in Miami…

Huge lines have been forming at a Florida food bank ahead of Thanksgiving and as the coronavirus pandemic worsened across the United States.

Hundreds of cars were spotted queuing for food boxes at Miami’s Gwen Cherry Park on Wednesday.

The boxes were being distributed by the Miami Marlins Foundation amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has forced thousands of Floridians out of work.

Sadly, the truth is that this is happening all over the nation, and this new round of lockdowns will continue to make things even worse as we head into 2021.

In so many instances, the people waiting in line at these food banks are wearing very nice clothes and are driving very nice vehicles.  This severe economic downturn has come upon them very “suddenly”, but those that have been reading my books were warned in advance that this exact scenario was coming.

Even if this pandemic disappeared tomorrow, I would still believe that we have a “very dark winter” in front of us.  If you have not prepared for the extremely challenging times that lie ahead, I would very strongly urge you to do so.

So far this year we have been hit by one major crisis after another, and the “perfect storm” that started in 2020 is only going to intensify during the coming months.

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Michael’s new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.

Cushing Crude Stocks Soar At Record Pace, Storage Hub Nears Capacity

Cushing Crude Stocks Soar At Record Pace, Storage Hub Nears Capacity Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 11:10

Despite optimism about a vaccine-driven return to normal, the glut in crude oil stocks is getting gluttier once again.

2020 has seen a record increase in stocks at Cushing and while COVID-lockdown Round 1 saw a bigger spike, this second COVID wave is forcing the energy complex into just as 'glutty' a situation as before...

Source: Bloomberg

In fact, stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for West Texas Intermediate futures, stood at 61.6 million barrels as of Nov. 13, or about 81% of capacity, according to the most recent U.S. government data. That’s 3.83 million barrels shy of the levels seen in May.

Source: Bloomberg

As Bloomberg reports, though a repeat of the negative oil prices seen in April is unlikely, the mounting supply glut brings home how lockdown measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic may soon force traders to store oil in every nook and cranny available, including ships and pipelines. Some are already doing that.

“Even as those facilities come back online, we are seeing excess inflows into Cushing overshadowing increased demand,” said Hillary Stevenson, a research director at Wood Mackenzie Ltd.

The reasons behind the buildup are similar to what happened before: Refineries are still coping with lackluster demand as coronavirus cases surge anew.

On top of that, some of them have also been undergoing seasonal maintenance.

This surge in crude stocks has added to the wild swings and speculation in the oil market as the two most influential developments have been Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. presidential election and Pfizer’s vaccination breakthrough. Both of these events have the potential to significantly impact global oil markets. Then, as we at Primary Vision Network have been warning for months, the second wave of COVID-19 hit, and optimistic estimates of oil demand recovery collapsed.

While all of these events have impacted oil prices over the last few weeks, OilPrice.com's Osama Rixvi notes that they will also have long-term consequences for oil markets. Joe Biden’s victory will have implications for both the Iran Deal and U.S. relations with China, while the second wave of COVID and vaccine success will significantly impact oil demand and, by extension, OPEC’s strategy in oil markets. Joe Biden’s win has the potential to transform geopolitical and economic policies that directly impact oil prices.

The Iran Deal, formally known as the JCPOA (Joint Plan of Action), is one of the most obvious areas to watch. Among many other promises, Biden has said he plans to “rejoin” the deal, which would involve lifting or easing sanctions on Iran. This would lead to some additional barrels of production from Iran and would directly impact the OPEC+ strategy. With Libyan production already returning and the UAE considering withdrawing from OPEC, an increase in Iranian production would put the fragile OPEC+ agreement under even more pressure. But with new elections scheduled in Iran in 2021, Biden may struggle to keep his promise of rejoining the deal.

Another key factor to watch, as I have highlighted many times, is the U.S.-China trade war. A Biden victory has the potential to ease tensions between these two giants and improve the global economic environment as well as boosting oil markets. It is important to mention here that China will not be able to fulfill its promise of buying an additional $200 billion of products from U.S. If Biden decides to honor the previous agreement and enforce the sanctions snapback clause that was included, the trade war would likely reignite and oil prices would suffer. 

The final factor to watch in 2021 is COVID19, the single most important factor for oil markets. While the news of a vaccine did temporarily boost oil markets, there is a long way to go before we overcome the pandemic. A vaccine is going to be vital is we are going to return to a pre-pandemic oil market and economy. But even if the vaccination is effective, its affordability, acceptability, and availability are all key factors is how effective it is.

Moreover, due to the time needed to roll out the vaccine, we will continue to see lower demand for a good part of next year. While we are waiting for demand to recover, the OPEC+ agreement will be vital. The group is currently considering the possibility of extending the agreement for another three to six months. Saudi Arabia even said that the markets can expect additional cuts if required - altering the production cut agreement

Sources: PVN 

According to Mark Rossano of Primary Vision Network (PVN),

“the main issues in the crude markets these days, are:

1) Crude Storage dynamics both onshore/ offshore

2) Crude differentials that promote varying grades

3) The oversupply at the refiners causing economic run cuts making the demand situation worse.”

So while a Biden presidency may change the geopolitical factors at play and a COVID-19 vaccine is providing markets with hope, the oil market will need time to address its fundamental issues.

Biden may have some protectionist tendencies too as he has said he will propose to Federal agencies that they procure only U.S. goods and services. He has also proposed a tax on companies that move their production facilities and jobs outside the U.S. These tendencies alongside his stance on the Senkaku Islands may make it a little difficult for him to seek rapprochement with China.

For the rest of the year, market observers should closely monitor developments related to Iran, China, and COVID, there is no doubt that these will be the three major drivers of oil prices in 2021.

Up To 20% Of COVID-19 Infections Asymptomatic, Far Less Likely To Transmit Virus: Study

Up To 20% Of COVID-19 Infections Asymptomatic, Far Less Likely To Transmit Virus: Study Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 10:50

Until now, evidence suggested that up to half of COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic "silent spreaders" of the disease who were unwittingly contributing to outbreaks. Some estimates even pegged the rate of asymptomatic infections as high as 81%.

Now, new evidence suggests that just 17% of those infected with COVID-19 will experience no symptoms, according to Nature, citing a meta-analysis of 13 studies published last month which involved 21,708 people. What's more, asymptomatic individuals are 42% less likely to transmit the virus than those with symptoms.

The research, spearheaded by lead author Oyungerel Byambasuren of the Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare at Bond University in Gold Coast, Australia, defined asymptomatic people as those who showed none of the key COVID-19 sysmptoms during the entire follow-up period. The authors only included studies which followed participants for at least seven days, as evidence suggests symptoms typically develop in 7-13 days (during which people are still contagious).

One reason that scientists want to know how frequently people without symptoms transmit the virus is because these infections largely go undetected. Testing in most countries is targeted at those with symptoms.

As part of a large population study in Geneva, Switzerland, researchers modelled viral spread among people living together. In a manuscript posted on medRxiv this month2, they report that the risk of an asymptomatic person passing the virus to others in their home is about one-quarter of the risk of transmission from a symptomatic person. -Nature

That said, the analysis acknowledges that while there is a lower risk of transmission among asymptomatics, they may still present a public health risk due to the fact that they are more likely to be out in the community vs. isolating at home, according to Switzerland-based infectious-disease specialist Andrew Azman of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a co-author on the study.

"The actual public-health burden of this massive pool of interacting ‘asymptomatics’ in the community probably suggests that a sizeable portion of transmission events are from asymptomatic transmissions," he said.

Nature notes that other researchers disagree over the extent to which asymptomatic spread contributes to community transmission. " Byambasuren, the lead author, says that if the studies are correct that asymptomatic people are a low transmission risk, "these people are not the secret drivers of this pandemic," as they are "not coughing or sneezing as much" and are "probably not contaminating as much surfaces as other people."

So, while the 'silent spread' factor appears to be far less pronounced than previously thought, and the virus kills less than 1% of those infected under the age of 60, one still has approximately a 10% chance of becoming a "long hauler" - an infected person who essentially suffers from waves of flu symptoms for months on end. Is that worth shutting down the economy over?

John Kerry Says 'Great Reset' Is Needed To Stop Rise Of Populism

John Kerry Says 'Great Reset' Is Needed To Stop Rise Of Populism Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 10:30

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

Former Secretary of State John Kerry attended a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum during which he asserted that a great reset was urgently needed to stop the rise of populism.

Kerry vowed that under a Biden administration, America would rejoin the job-killing Paris Climate Agreement but that this was “not enough.”

“The notion of a reset is more important than ever before,” Kerry said.

“I personally believe... we’re at the dawn of an extremely exciting time.”

The former Senator made it clear that this “reset,” which is merely a re-branding of the same new world order that has faced stiff resistance for the past two decades, is necessary to extinguish populism.

“I think Europe has to look at that with Brexit and the rising national populism - nationalistic populism,” said Kerry.

“Which is really one of the priorities that we all have to address. You can’t dismiss it.”

Speaking about how Trump increased his vote in 2020, Kerry noted, “What astounds me is that as many people still voted for the level of chaos and breach of law and order and breaking the standards and … I think that, the underlying reason for that is something that everybody has to examine.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also welcomed the prospect of Biden as a “friend in the White House” to the globalists and said the two entities would work on “a new rulebook for the digital economy and the digital society.”

“The need for global cooperation and this acceleration of change will both be drivers of the Great Reset. And I see this as an unprecedented opportunity,” said von der Leyen.

As we have exhaustively documented, “The Great Reset” is merely the latest incarnation of the agenda to centralize power into the hands of a tiny elite, disenfranchising Americans, lowering their living standards and forcing them to submit to a social credit score system that will eliminate all privacy and personal autonomy.

As we reported yesterday, legacy media outlets like the New York Times are still claiming the “Great Reset” is a “conspiracy theory” even as world leaders openly announce it.

For a full break down of what “The Great Reset” truly represents, watch the interview below.

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Hedge Funds Go "All-In" As Bears Go Extinct: Shorts Drop To Record Lows

Hedge Funds Go "All-In" As Bears Go Extinct: Shorts Drop To Record Lows Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 10:09

In recent weeks we have read one report after another from JPMorgan's quants who, in trying to justify their explosive S&P forecast for 2021 and 2022 which sees the S&P rising as high as 4,500, make the false claim that hedge funds are barely invested in the market and have lots of dry powder, i.e., cash on the sidelines.

We now hope to bring these lies to an end once and for all, for the simple reason that as of this moment, hedge funds have never been more long stocks on both a gross and net basis.

The reason for that, as Goldman's Ben Snider points out in its latest hedge fund trend monitor, is that in the third quarter having given up on generating alpha, hedge funds have "increasingly relied on beta to support returns." Confirming this, Goldman's Hedge Fund VIP basket, which tracks the most popular hedge fund long positions, has outperformed the S&P 500 by 20% points YTD (+32% vs. +12%). And while it still lags the Nasdaq 100, the basket is now on pace for its strongest annual excess return vs. the S&P 500 on record as shown in the second chart below.

As an aside, following the recent 15-sigma rotation out of growth and into value on the back of vaccine news, Goldman caveats that in recent weeks, the outperformance of the most popular hedge fund long positions has moderated. Since the start of the fourth quarter, VIPs have outperformed the S&P 500 by about 2 percentage points (+8% vs. +6%), as the US elections and vaccine announcements drove sharp rotations within the market.

Ironically, and as we have claimed since 2013, the biggest outperformance came on the back of soaring shorts: as Snider writes in his report, "since the market trough in March the most concentrated short positions have consistently outperformed as funds covered their short exposures in a rapidly rising market."

This should not come as a surprise to our readers: as we first observed all the way back in 2013, "The Best Trading Strategy In This Market: Buy The Most Hated Stocks, Short The Most Widely Held", going long a basket of the most shorted names has best the best alpha generating trade year after year after year, and nowhere more so than in 2020. And now Goldman confirms this. 

Sadly, hedge funds once again were not aware of this, and even as they went long the hedge fund VIP basket which has soared, they were collectively short (as a group) the same handful of names, which has ripped higher, in many cases more than offsetting any gains from the long book.

As a result, hedge funds have resorted once again to the oldest trick in the book - piling leverage upon leverage to chase not alpha, which they have failed to do once again in 2020, but beta.

Indeed, as Goldman notes, "record net leverage has supported hedge fund returns in recent weeks despite the erosion of alpha."

And here is our - and Goldman's counter - to anyone who incorrectly claims that hedge funds are not all in: aggregate hedge fund net leverage calculated based on publicly-available data registered 56% at the start of 4Q 2020, tying the record from early 2015. Exposures calculated by Goldman Sachs Prime Services also show extremely elevated net leverage; in fact net leverage has never been higher: as Snider explains: "According to their data, net leverage has risen quickly since the March market trough and is now at the highest level on record."

The flipside to the above is that that now that shorts have been absolutely crushed and steamrolled, there are none left.

As Goldman points out, as funds increased length in the rising market (i.e., covered their shorts), "short interest has continued to fall, reaching new record lows." As shown in the final chart, the median S&P 500 stock has outstanding short interest equating to just 1.6% of market cap, the lowest level in Goldman's 16-year data history.

In most sectors, short interest outstanding currently ranks in the bottom decile of the last 15 years, with only Energy sector shorts registering above the historical average.

This means that with no shorts left, the market's ability to "squeeze" higher is now finished... except for energy where we expect some catalyst to unleash what will soon be the only short squeeze left in the market.

"There's Plenty Of Firepower Left" - Mnuchin Defends Decision To End Fed's Emergency Lending Programs

"There's Plenty Of Firepower Left" - Mnuchin Defends Decision To End Fed's Emergency Lending Programs Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 09:50

After the mainstream press accused the Trump Administration of trying to "sabotage" the Biden Administration by closing out a handful of Fed lending programs that were seeded with money from the Treasury earlier this year, Secretary Mnuchin appeared on CNBC Friday morning for a lengthy phone interview with Jim Cramer.

The secretary defended the decision as "a very simple thing" and pointed out the irony that Democrats had initially been skeptical of "giving me $500 million to do with whatever I want". The program has been "a great success story", he said. Now it's time for the money to come back, as Congress intended, he said.

"This has been an incredible success. Let's not focus on a couple of facilities that were hardly used," Mnuchin insisted. He also claimed that markets "should be very comfortable" with the amount of ammo the Fed has in reserve.

"Markets should be very comfortable that we have plenty of capacity left," the Treasury secretary said.

"This is not a political issue," he added

When pressed by Cramer & Co. about whether his decision to recall the funds was tantamount to shooting Jerome Powell in the back, Mnuchin insisted that he was simply following the process set out in the law, and that the money from these Fed lending programs could be put to better use by making loans to small businesses.

"The intent was this part of it expires in December, let's go use this money in parts of the economy that need it. We don't need this money to buy corporate bonds. We need this money to help small businesses that have been hurt, through no fault of their own."

"The medical emergency may not be over but the financial conditions are in great shape...corporate bonds have come in...mortgages have come in...the stock market has rebounded. I'm hoping that since we've been such an effective steward of these tools...that Congress" won't hesitate to authorize similar programs in the future.

While urging Democrats to come together with the GOP like they did in the spring to pass another round of stimulus measures, Mnuchin revealed that he would meet with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Senate leader Mitch McConnell. When asked about reaching out to the Dems, Mnuchin said he planned to reach out to Democratic Congressional leaders.

As we reported last night, Mnuchin requested the expiration of the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Municipal Lending Facility, the Main Street Lending Program, and the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility by December 31. At the same time, he wants the Commercial Paper Funding Facility, the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, and the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility be kept in place for an additional 90 days. The Fed responded with a statement claiming it would "prefer" that "the full suite" of measures designed to combat COVID's impact on the economy be left intact.

When the interviewer pointed out that the next few weeks could be "really ugly," Mnuchin replied that the administration had shifted its focus from the economy to vaccines, which he said should become available to the first patients in a matter of weeks.

When it comes to negotiations with the Democrats on another stimulus package, the secretary said he would be "redoubling our efforts" to strike a deal, unleashing more optimistic headlines in another effort to pump stocks.

"I had hoped now that we're past the election that the Democrats will work with us...during the CARES act we had incredible bipartisan support...we'll be redoubling our efforts to try and get something done."

When Jim Cramer quoted the NYT which accused Mnuchin of trying to sabotage the upcoming Biden administration, Mnuchin insisted that "what we're trying to do is follow the law as we're supposed to...[the program] has been a great success...let's get it done."

Asked about his willingness to work with his possible successor, Mnuchin said he would be happy to work with whoever once the certification process related to deciding the official President-Elect is finished.

"There's a process to certify, and once this is certified of course we will work with whoever we need to work with," Mnuchin insisted. Asked whether he would be "happy" if former Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen is picked as his successor, Mnuchin demurred, saying it wouldn't be right for him to comment on the issue...but insisted that he would work with whoever is picked, after the results are made official.

Looking ahead, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany will hold her first press briefing since the election on Friday at noon. Meanwhile, the torrent of critical op-eds continued, with CNBC publishing a piece of commentary accusing Mnuchin of "removing the life boats from the Titanic".

Let's hope America's zombie companies have learned how to swim after all those years treading water.

Did Mnuchin Shoot Powell In The Back?

Did Mnuchin Shoot Powell In The Back? Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 09:44

As we reported yesterday, and as Rabobank senior strategist Philip Marey writes this morning in a note titled Mnuchin shoots the Fed in the back, "Treasury Secretary Mnuchin upset the markets yesterday when he announced that a number of the Fed’s special lending facilities should be terminated by the end of the year."

In a letter to Fed Chairman Powell, Mnuchin said that the programs have clearly achieved their objectives. Credit markets have been rehabilitated and banks have the lending capacity to meet the borrowing needs of their corporate, municipal and non-profit clients. However, the Fed does not agree with Mnuchin’s decision and said in a statement that the Fed would prefer that the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic continue to serve their important role as a backstop for our still-strained and vulnerable economy.

Earlier this week, Powell said that the time to discontinue the lending facilities was not soon, highlighting that typically the Fed keeps its backstops in place for some time after a crisis hits. Yesterday, Atlanta Fed president Bostic said that given where the economy is – and there’s so much uncertainty still out there – it’s prudent to keep those things open so that when people, if they do have stress, they can draw upon it.

All this comes at a time that the economic data show a loss of momentum, with initial jobless claims moved in the wrong direction yesterday, rising to 742K in the second week of November from 711K in the first week. At the same time, existing home sales slowed down to 4.3% month-on-month in October, from 9.9% in September and the Philly Fed fell to 26.3 in November from 32.3 in October. This adds to the series of US data that show a loss of momentum in the economic recovery. The combination of rising Covid-19 infections and lack of additional fiscal stimulus after the CARES Act may now be finding its way into the economic data.

While Rabobank writes that this should underline the urgency of a new fiscal stimulus package, "unfortunately, Congress goes on vacation next week. Probably tired from doing nothing the past six months, at least when measured in terms of providing additional fiscal stimulus. On top of that, the Treasury Secretary wants his money back from the Fed."

In this context of slowing growth, Mnuchin requested the expiration of the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Municipal Lending Facility, the Main Street Lending Program, and the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility by December 31. At the same time, he wants the Commercial Paper Funding Facility, the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, and the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility be kept in place for an additional 90 days.

Meanwhile, it is worth noting that Republicans had earlier indicated they were worried that the Municipal Lending Facility and the Main Street Lending Program could be used by the Democrats to bypass Congress if Republicans were to block additional federal government support to local governments and small and mid-sized businesses. So, as Rabobank concludes, "Mnuchin’s action is clearly related to politics."

Well... yes, of course it is. And it is safe to say that the political backstabbing moves are only just starting.

What is a bigger question is how will the market react as we approach the Dec 31 "expiration" date: as Bloomberg's Emily Barrett writes, "this action knocks out a safety net at a time when lawmakers have no clear plan. And no one needs reminding that the U.S. is heading into a tough winter, with infection rates setting daily records, renewed restrictions on activity, school shutdowns and more businesses closing."

Moreover, she adds, terminating the programs on Dec. 31 means they may be tougher to restart under the new Biden Administration 20 days later. New funds will need Congressional authorization, though JPMorgan’s Mike Feroli said the incoming Treasury Secretary could agree to restart the facilities with pre-CARES Act cash available in the department’s Exchange Stabilization Fund, which he puts at just over $70 billion.

So for now the upshot is more delays and uncertainty over crucial support for the economy... and more to come if the last Senate races in Georgia next month deliver another bitterly divided Congress.

Yet while futures tumbled as much as 1% and 10Ys dropped to 0.81%, all the moves have been unwound. How come? Well, the most likely explanation is that traders are already frontrunning the massive monetary stimulus that the Fed will have to unleash next. There is just one problem: stocks have to plunge first as otherwise the Fed's hands are tied.

Which, paradoxically, means that by frontrunning the Fed's response, traders are effectively making it impossible.

Tesla Wrecks In Oregon, Launching Scorching Hot Battery Projectiles Into Two Nearby Homes, Starting Fires

Tesla Wrecks In Oregon, Launching Scorching Hot Battery Projectiles Into Two Nearby Homes, Starting Fires Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 09:36

You've heard of Teslas driving themselves through storefronts. You've heard of Teslas spontaneously combusting. But have you yet heard of Teslas shooting piping hot projectiles through the air at innocent bystanders?

Because that appears to be the next iteration in the "What will these cars do next?" saga that has been unfolding on streets across the nation for the better part of a half decade now.

A Tesla crash this week in Oregon resulted in the vehicle's scorching hot battery cells flying out of the car and "toward nearby homes", according to NBC. The driver of the vehicle, who was "stoned" and "going more than 100 MPH", lost control of the vehicle and hit trees, a power pole and a phone box when he wrecked.

"Hundreds of the Tesla's hot batteries were thrown from the vehicle," the report says. "Two of them crashed through windows at separate homes, starting small fires."

A nearby neighbor who was at home watching TV said: “It was a real scary-looking wreck. There were down power lines everywhere. It’s a lot of crazy chaos.”

“Somebody had a tire come crashing through their wall,” he continued. That tire not only left a hole in the wall of a nearby apartment building, but also broke a water pipe that flooded the complex. 

Next door to the neighbor, a house window was shattered by a "flying battery", which "started a small fire" on a child's bed. The child wasn't in the bed at the time. 

The driver fled the scene and was apprehended several blocks away. He is now facing charges of "driving under the influence of intoxicants, second-degree criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and reckless driving."

Will The Trump Team Prove A Global Conspiracy Or Will Dominion Sue For Defamation?

Will The Trump Team Prove A Global Conspiracy Or Will Dominion Sue For Defamation? Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 09:33

As we detailed previously, yesterday's press conference held by the Trump legal team was not for the faint of heart.

As Jonathan Turley writes, the team alleged a global, Communist-backed conspiracy to “inject” and “change” votes through the use of the Dominion computer system. It was exhausting and breathtaking. I was critical of the press conference as being long on heated rhetoric and short on hard evidence. Dominion issued a statement categorically denying the allegations.

The question is whether Dominion itself will now sue.  The company denied the allegations but I often measure such denials by whether anyone actually sues.  Dominion could do so and force the Trump team to reveal the evidence supporting their allegations or face potentially significant liability. I assume that counsel like Sidney Powell would not make such allegations without proof, but the press conference did not make such evidence public. But these are not just colorful but criminal allegations against named companies and by implication corporate officials and political allies.

Trump campaign counsel repeatedly accused Dominion and its officers of criminal conduct and business improprieties. Those are categories of “per se defamation” under the common law. No special damages must be shown in such per se cases. Individual officers could bring defamation claims and the company itself could bring a business disparagement action.

Businesses can be defamed like individuals if the false statement injures the business character of the corporation or its prestige and standing in the industry. In Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, Inc., 472 U.S. 749 (1985) the Supreme Court allowed a business to sue a credit reporting agency for defamation where the agency mistakenly reported that the business had filed for bankruptcy.

Restatement Second § 561 Defamation of Corporations states:

“One who publishes defamatory matter concerning a corporation is subject to liability to it

(a)  if the corporation is one for profit, and the matter tends to prejudice it in the conduct of its business or to deter others from dealing with it, or

(b)  if, although not for profit, it depends upon financial support from the public, and the matter tends to interfere with its activities by prejudicing it in public estimation.”

Dominion appears to be a company with a Colorado headquarters.

There could be lawsuits in Colorado or the place of the alleged defamation. The lawsuit would likely be filed under state law but moved to federal court under diversity jurisdiction arguments.

The press conference was an explosion of potentially defamatory claims by individuals or companies.  The only clear defense is truth.  The team insists that it can prove these allegations.  It may have to do so. Not only can the individual lawyers face such lawsuits but the Trump campaign itself could be liable under the principle of respondeat superior, where an employer is liable for the conduct of his employees when they are acting within the scope of their employment. Ironically, the Latin term means “let the master speak.” The President or his campaign could be forced to speak in a defamation case if they have not spoken in the promised court filings.

There is a question of privilege for legal claims.  There is an absolute privilege for lawyers in making statements in court. That is important because we often voice allegations that impute the veracity or character of parties, particularly in criminal cases. However, that privilege is more limited outside of court. It can still apply but some courts have refused to protect statements made to the press or the public. World Wresting Fed Entertainment, Inc v Bozell142 F Supp 2d 514, 534 (SDNY 2001); Kennedy v Cannon229 Md 92, 97, 182 A2d 54, 58 (1962).

In other words, if the Trump team does not put forward this evidence in its case challenging the election, it could now be forced to produce it in a case brought by Dominion or its officers.

NFL Primetime Ratings Continue Their Collapse, Ten Weeks Into The Season

NFL Primetime Ratings Continue Their Collapse, Ten Weeks Into The Season Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 08:40

The mantra "get woke, go broke" is one both the NBA and the NFL are becoming intimately familiar with.

After documenting historically poor ratings for the NBA Finals on the heels of the league turning political, the NFL has started to follow suit. We noted a couple months ago that the NFL season got off to a poor start in terms of ratings.

Now, ten weeks into the season, it looks as though the bleeding isn't close to stopping for two of the NFL's primetime spots: Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football. 

Last week's Sunday Night Football Patriots vs. Ravens game - featuring two of the best quarterbacks in the league and arguably the best coach in NFL history - saw its ratings collapse 31% over last year's Week 10 game.

In fact, last week's game became "the season’s least-watched Sunday game," according to Breitbart

Sports Media Watch reported: “Ratings have dropped for all 11 NFL games on NBC this season, with viewership down for all-but-one.”

Monday Night Football also saw a similar tick down in ratings. It averaged 11.45 million viewers this past week, which was a 28% decline from the Monday night game last season. 

The league saw some respite when, on Sunday, Fox drew in 18.24 million viewers for its Buccaneers vs. Panthers game. The game because the most-watched game since 2016, when a game posted 18.4 million viewers on Fox on Christmas Eve. 

The ensuring Seahawks vs. Rams and Bengals vs. Steelers games, also on Fox, saw viewership drop 20% and 13%, respectively. 

Ethereum Soars Above $500 For First Time Since 2018

Ethereum Soars Above $500 For First Time Since 2018 Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 08:25

While Bitcoin has been making all the headlines recently, surging above $18,000, it is Ethereum that is suddenly bid overnight, breaking above $500...

Source: Bloomberg

...and reversing some recent underperformance vs Bitcoin.

Source: Bloomberg

The last time the cryptocurrency was above $500 was July 2018.

Source: Bloomberg

As Decrypt.co's Scott Chipolina notes, Ethereum has been the talk of the town in recent months as the crypto community anticipates the release of Ethereum 2.0, a massive upgrade to the Ethereum network that aims to solve long standing scalability issues plaguing the Ethereum network. But while we wait for this upgrade, Ethereum's price has kept rising.

"Ethereum has the network, it has the attention and now we are starting to see the true price discovery start," Charles Storry, co-founder of PhutureDAO, told Decrypt.

This recent price increase adds to solid growth over the last month, with Ethereum's price having risen from $375 on October 20, 2020. What's more, Ethereum began the year at just $130. That means this represents a 33% increase in the last month, and a 284% gain on the year so far.

But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Ethereum. On January 13, 2018, Ethereum hit its all-time high of $1,344. What followed was a major drop in price which saw Bitcoin’s chief cryptocurrency rival fell to $370 in less than three months.

But with a 33% gain in just the last month, it’s clear that Ethereum is enjoying a considerable good run of its own. Anticipation over Ethereum 2.0 is certainly playing a role, but there are many other possible reasons for this recent price increase.

“Without looking at the transaction data, price action could be driven by many reasons. Rotation from Bitcoin into Ether from Bitcoin holders, bullishness around crypto in general, or perhaps conversion of some of the funds previously stuck in dollar/ETH pairs in Uniswap back into ETH,” Kirill Kutakov, co-founder of Stakewise, told Decrypt.

But it still has a long way to go if it wants to break a new all-time high.

Futures Recover All Losses From "Fed-Treasury Split" Scare

Futures Recover All Losses From "Fed-Treasury Split" Scare Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 08:04

After futures dropped sharply, sliding as much as 1% during the Asian session after Steven Mnuchin announced that the Treasury would seek to recover nearly $500bn in cash from the Fed as it sought to end eight emergency credit facilities on Dec 31, sparking fears that helicopter money - which as a reminder is a coordination between the Fed and Treasury - would expire by year end, markets have managed to recover all overnight losses with the S&P last trading flat perhaps and just shy of all time highs, as traders realized that whether under Mnuchin or Brainard, the Treasury will promptly restore all emergency facilities in 2021 - it simply has no choice. Furthermore, Mnuchin said he is merely carrying out the law prescribed by the Cares Act, and his actions were not an indication of disagreement between the top two U.S. economic policymakers.

The mood was boosted by the now daily dose of positive vaccine news, which came shortly before 7am when Pfizer and BioNTech said they would submit EUA for their vaccine today (as expected), noting that the vaccines would be ready for distribution within hours of receiving approval. This could potentially enable use of the vaccine in high-risk populations in the U.S. by the middle to end of December 2020, dramatically shortening the time to market.

As a result, Pfizer shares rose 1.8% premarket  while Moderna also rose in premarket trading after news that its Covid-19 vaccine could receive a conditional European Union marketing authorization next month, while Gilead slides after WHO experts say there’s no evidence remdesivir improves survival. Apparel and home fashion retailer Ross Stores gained 3.4% after its quarterly sales topped expectations. Nasdaq futures rose 0.2% as investors returned to stay at home technology stocks. Netflix, Amazon.com and Microsoft all edged higher premarket.

Futures were initially spooked after Mnuchin sent a letter to Fed Chair Powell, in which he said $455 billion allocated to Treasury under the CARES Act should be instead available for Congress to reallocate. The Fed was instantly triggered, issuing a counter statement saying the "full suite" of measures needs to be maintained and although the programs were not used extensively, Fed officials felt their presence reassured financial markets and investors that credit would remain available to help businesses through the pandemic.

"Understanding how this spat between the Fed and Treasury ends up being resolved between now and December is absolutely critical," Virginie Maisonneuve, chief executive of MGA Consulting, said on Bloomberg Television. Markets face a possible headwind at the prospect of a withdrawal of the liquidity that has sustained them so far this year, she said.

Bulls also fought against the latest flare-ups in virus cases around the world which have continued to dampen sentiment. California fresh curfews to try to fight surging coronavirus infections, while Japan is facing a third wave of the virus, Hong Kong a fourth, and parts of Europe are already under recently renewed social restrictions. Sentiment was also hit by data that showed COVID-19 hospitalizations across the United States jumped by nearly 50% in the last two weeks.

"Despite those developments the fact the market is able to resist to this extent means there is some sun ahead, driven by the fact that in medium term economic activity will accelerate and there is positive news o the vaccine," said François Savary, chief investment officer at Swiss wealth manager Prime Partners.

The MSCI index of global stocks was 0.1% firmer and on course for its third weekly gain in a row. European stocks erased an early loss, and edged higher in a generally quiet session, with the Stoxx Europe 600 also headed for its third week of gains amid a rotation into economically sensitive sectors. Mining and energy firms led the advance as commodities from oil to copper rallied. U.K. software publisher Sage Group Plc plunged 13% after an earnings miss. The Italian FTSE MIB lead gains in Europe, up 0.9%.

The European Union could pay more than $10 billion to secure hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine candidates being developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and CureVac, an EU official involved in the talks told Reuters.

Earlier in the session, the MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares excluding Japan rose 0.4%, while Japan's Nikkei stumbled 0.4%, weighed down by a rise in new domestic coronavirus infections to record highs and with SoftBank climbing and Daikin slipping. Most markets in the region were up, with Thailand's SET advancing 1.2% and Singapore's Straits Times Index rising 1.1%, while Indonesia's Jakarta Composite slid 0.4%. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.4%, driven by SAIC Motor and Zijin Mining.

In currencies, the greenback traded mixed versus G-10 peers, with some risk sensitive currencies rising and others falling, though moves were largely contained to narrow ranges. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was flat. The euro fell in early European trading after approaching $1.19 toward the end of the Asian session while the Australian dollar is having its best month versus the U.S. dollar since April, in terms of percentage change. The premium to own downside option exposure in the pound over the next week widens as European Union leaders look to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit

In rates, Treasuries were slightly cheaper on the day in early trading after paring an advance that began late Thursday following clash between Treasury Department and Fed over preservation of emergency lending programs. Yields are higher by 1bp-2bp in 7- to 20-year sectors, 10-year by 1.3bp at 0.842% after opening under 0.82%, lowest yield since Nov. 9; it remains lower on the week by ~5bp.Yields extended their climb from session lows along with S&P 500 futures after Pfizer said it will seek emergency authorization for its Covid vaccine.  Bunds inched up, outperforming Treasuries, with no German bond sales until Dec. 2.

In commodities, oil prices steadied after losses the previous day, when concerns about coronavirus lockdowns affecting fuel demand weighed on the market. Brent crude was up 34 cents at $44.54 on the latest vaccine news. Gold fell 0.1% to $1,866.19 per ounce.

Looking at the day ahead, the data highlights include UK retail sales and public finances for October, along with Germany’s PPI. As well as this, we’ll get the Euro Area’s advance consumer confidence reading for November, and Canada’s September retail sales. Central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Weidmann and Centeno, as well as the Fed’s Kaplan, Barkin, Bostic and George.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures unch at 3,579
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.4% to 389.26
  • German 10Y yield rose 0.2 bps to -0.569%
  • Euro down 0.09% to $1.1864
  • Brent Futures up 0.4% to $44.38/bbl
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 1.3 bps to 0.53%
  • Spanish 10Y yield rose 0.2 bps to 0.072%
  • MXAP up 0.3% to 188.39
  • MXAPJ up 0.4% to 622.59
  • Nikkei down 0.4% to 25,527.37
  • Topix up 0.06% to 1,727.39
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.4% to 26,451.54
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,377.73
  • Sensex up 0.8% to 43,944.99
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.1% to 6,539.17
  • Kospi up 0.2% to 2,553.50
  • Brent Futures up 0.4% to $44.38/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.08% to $1,867.97
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.03% to 92.32

Top Overnight news from Bloomberg

  • The U.K. hasn’t moved sufficiently to overcome the three main obstacles to a trade deal, European Union negotiators told envoys from the bloc’s 27 governments
  • BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc. could receive conditional European Union marketing authorization for their Covid-19 vaccines in the second half of next month, according to the head of the EU’s executive arm, putting the bloc on track to start distributing the shots at the same time as the U.S.
  • A rally in global credit markets sparked by unprecedented stimulus since the start of the pandemic will be tested by the prospect of Federal Reserve backstops ending
  • Time is running out for the financial industry to ditch the scandal- tainted Libor benchmark, a panel of the world’s top regulators warned Friday
  • U.K. government borrowing climbed to a record 214.9 billion pounds ($286 billion) in the first seven months of the fiscal year, underscoring the tough choices facing Chancellor Rishi Sunak as he prepares for a major announcement on spending next week

A quick look at global markets courtesy of NewsSquawk

Asian equity markets traded with a non-committal tone as participants reflected on the choppy price action stateside where concerns regarding COVID-19 restrictions lingered and although reports of congressional staffers were meeting to discuss the omnibus spending package and coronavirus relief, provided tailwinds for the major indices heading into the closing bell, the advances in US futures were eventually wiped out after hours. This was following a request by US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin for the Fed to return unused CARES Act funds to the Treasury and decision to shelve several programs that utilize those funds including the Main Street Facility, Term Asset-backed Facility, Primary and Secondary Corporate Credit Facilities and the Municipal Liquidity Facility, which in turn prompted a dissenting response from the Fed which would prefer to continue with the full suite of emergency facilities to support the economy. ASX 200 (-0.1%) was kept afloat for most the session amid strength in tech and with financials also positive as CBA shares welcomed APRA’s decision to reduce the lender’s operational risk capital add-on, although IAG remained the worst performer after it flagged a post-tax provision of AUD 865mln due to the recent NSW court ruling. The index then gradually faltered and closed in the red weighed by weakness in the commodity sectors, while Nikkei 225 (-0.4%) underperformed following recent fluctuations in the currency, a spike in COVID-19 infections and with inflation data remaining in negative territory for a 3rd consecutive month. Hang Seng (+0.4%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) eked tentative gains amid broad indecision after the PBoC maintained its Loan Prime Rates as expected and continued to drain liquidity from the interbank market, while several mid-cap banking names were under pressure including China Everbright Bank and Industrial Bank Co. after reports China’s bond market regulator plans to conduct investigations on lenders involved in the bond issuance of the state-owned coal miner which recently defaulted. Finally, 10yr JGBs eked mild gains amid the underperformance in Japanese stocks and strength in T-notes after the Treasury asked for its funds back from the Fed, but with upside capped amid the enhanced liquidity auction for 2yr, 5yr, 10yr and 20yr JGBs which showed relatively inline results with the prior.

Top Asian News

  • Japan’s Record Covid Cases Stoke Economic Double-Dip Concern
  • Hong Kong Virus Cases Surge Again as City Sees ‘Fourth Wave’
  • Fosun’s Unit Rallies on Debut After Biggest India Pharma IPO

European equities (Eurostoxx 50 +0.6%) trade with modest gains in the final trading session of the week with the selling seen late yesterday in the US failing to have much bearing on today’s European session. US futures are more despondent than transatlantic peers, but ultimately mixed/flat, in the wake of yesterday’s news that US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has requested that the Fed returns unused CARES Act funds to the Treasury and decided to shelve several programs that utilize those funds. This in turn prompted a dissenting response from the Fed which would prefer to continue with the full suite of emergency facilities to support the economy. Additionally, reports that congressional staffers are set to meet to discuss the omnibus spending package and coronavirus relief were later tempered by Fox’s Pergam who noted that talks will likely be on appropriations and not necessarily a coronavirus stimulus bill. Performance for US futures in the pre-market has seen the ES lower by 0.2%, whilst the tech-heavy e-mini NASDAQ fares better and is largely unchanged while the e-mini Russell lags with declines of 0.2%. Gains across European indices are relatively broad-based, whilst sectors trade mostly firmer, albeit modestly so. Basic resources and oil & gas names sit near the top of the leaderboard in what has been a relatively sparse morning of corporate updates for the region. Thyssenkrupp (+5.4%) is the best performer in the Stoxx 600 thus far, however, this is more a paring back of some of yesterday’s heavy declines seen in the wake of its FY earnings. BAE Systems (+3.7%) trade higher once again in the wake of yesterday’s budget announcement from the UK Department of Defence. To the downside, Sage (-13.5%) sit at the foot of the Stoxx 600 after FY results underwhelmed, whilst Royal Mail (+0.3%) pullback from recent earnings inspired gains.

Top European News

  • EU Leaders Are Urged to Step Up Preparations for No-Deal Brexit
  • Only the Best London Offices Thrive in an Emerging Covid Divide
  • Billionaire Leader Gives Czechs a Tax Cut Against Virus Pain

In Fx... Well that didn’t last long in terms of a revival, as the Buck retreats from Thursday’s recovery high having posted its first firmer close for 7 trading days in DXY terms and the index now hovering below 92.500 again within a lower 92.411-201 range. A late squeeze on Wall Street following reports that congressional staffers were discussing a spending bill, including further COVID-19 fiscal support, knocked the Greenback off its perch initially, and renewed pressure continued when it emerged that the Fed rebuffed a request from US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to hand back untapped CARES Act funds. Some subsequent respite for the Dollar amidst fragile risk sentiment and specific issues/factors keeping rival currencies in check or depressed.

  • NZD/AUD – As noted at the outset, Kiwi outperformance goes somewhat against the grain as major counterparts remain largely confined, but the rebound in Nzd/Usd to revisit recent highs above 0.6900 looks mainly due to favourable crosswinds as Aud/Nzd gravitates closer to 1.0500 and the Aussie fails to sustain momentum on the 0.7300 handle despite more upbeat data (retail sales much stronger than expected in line with the latest labour metrics).
  • GBP – The Pound is holding up relatively well, all things considered, though like Aud/Usd, Cable has not gleaned traction from another month of UK consumer excesses as the ONS noted early seasonal buying and retail discounting as mitigating reasons for the bumper activity. Instead, Sterling bulls seem to banking or betting on positive Brexit news as trade negotiations carry on remotely and intensely between UK and EU representatives. However, latest word from Brussels via an EU envoy is that fishing, state aid and a level playing field are still unresolved due to a lack of movement on the British side. Cable is pivoting 1.3275 at present and Eur/Gbp is choppy either side of 0.8950.
  • CAD/JPY/CHF/EUR – Completing the set, Canadian retail sales could be more compelling for the Loonie compared to new home prices, as Usd/Cad trades towards the base of a 1.3051-88 band, but for now an unusually large option expiry at the 1.3100 strike (1.1 bn) appears intact. Conversely, the Yen may yet be drawn to similar size at 104.00 (1 bn) after several thwarted attempts to extend gains through Fib resistance protecting 103.50 of late in wake of weak Japanese CPI prints, while the Euro looks boxed in given decent expiries at 1.1850 and 1.1900 (1.1 bn and 1.3 bn respectively) not to mention the ongoing EU Budget and Rescue Fund stand-off or dovish ECB vibes. Elsewhere, the Franc remains tethered to 0.9100 and 1.0800 vs the Euro following several false breaks and ever wary of SNB presence.
  • EM – The Lira was already consolidating after respecting resistance circa 7.5000 on the back of yesterday’s aggressive CBRT tightening move when Turkish President Erdogan repeated his controversial higher rates spur inflation view and Usd/Try retraced a bit further in response having mostly ignored another hike in swap rates and a decline in consumer sentiment. Nevertheless, the pair has pared back from around 7.6160 as he seemed to accept the hike as a bitter pill to combat above target CPI and reiterated efforts to restore investor confidence in the Lira.

In commodities, crude futures are modestly firmer this morning and have recouped the Treasury/Fed inspired downside just after the US equity close yesterday. Currently, WTI and Brent are firmer by around 1.0% and remain in relative proximity to the day’s peaks of USD 42.28/bbl and USD 44.70/bbl respectively. Much of this upside occurred in a mid-European morning spike with gains accelerating from ~0.5% firmer to the current +1.0% performance, such upside coincided with the continued grind higher in equities and notably with US futures moving in proximity to U/C for the session. Fundamentally, once again newsflow explicitly for the complex has been sparse with the broader macro narratives continuing to dictate things; a trend which may well remain in play until the month-end OPEC+ gathering; following this week’s JTC/JMMC events. Moving to metals, spot gold is essentially unchanged on the session and has meandered within a relatively tight USD sub-10/oz range since the European equity open. Separately, the weekly BofA flow show report highlights that over the last week gold saw its largest ever outflow totalling USD 4bln amid record inflows into equities across a two-week period.

US Event Calendar

  • Nothing major scheduled

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Talking of forecasts, one of the worst predictions I made around the time of the GFC a decade ago was that we might be at “peak TV”. I’d just binged watched the whole of the Supranos and The Wire in a few months and really thought TV couldn’t get much better. About 150 box sets later and it’s fair to say that they would still be near the top but with an awful lot of good series since. Indeed if you’re looking for inspiration tonight we are due to finish “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix which is a drama about Chess! It’s very very good but if you’d told me 20 years ago that my future Friday night self would have been desperately looking forward to watching Chess on TV I may have asked you to get me checked over. Then tomorrow we start the new series of “The Crown” and on Monday night the latest episode of “The Undoing”. It’s fair to say that peak TV has been a pretty long plateau.

If we’re at peak S&P 500 the market isn’t going down without a fight as a late stay-at-home fuelled rally took the index back in positive territory and up +0.39% for the day. However equities in Europe earlier lost ground and the more cyclically-oriented STOXX 600 was down -0.75%. Tech stocks outperformed on both sides of the Atlantic, with the NASDAQ ending the session +0.87% higher. That was in part thanks to Tesla, which surged a further +2.60% yesterday to reach a new record high, and bringing its gains over the last 3 sessions to a massive +22.34%. At current market cap it will enter the S&P 500 in December in eighth position.

The late rally was also helped by news that Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer are working with Congressional Republicans on a spending bill that would avoid a Dec. 11 government shutdown. While there is no indication that there would be work on fiscal stimulus as well, some reports indicated that members of both parties were open to getting some level of stimulus through. Elsewhere in US politics, on Tuesday we wrote that Fed Chair Powell leaned towards keeping the Fed’s emergency lending facilities operation as is, given that the “recovery is incomplete”. However the power to renew them sits with Treasury secretary Mnuchin and late last night he requested that the Federal Reserve return all unused stimulus funds to the Treasury Department. Mnuchin did say that in the “unlikely event that it becomes necessary in the future to reestablish any of these facilities”, the Fed can seek approval again. 10yr treasuries fell another -2.6bps after these headlines. Mnuchin also said overnight that Congress should seriously consider redirecting the unspent stimulus funding ($580bn was the number he used), including money he’s pulling back from the Federal Reserve, to buoy the economy as the U.S. waits for a vaccine.

Following Mnuchin’s request, the Fed has urged the administration overnight that “the full suite” of facilities be kept in place. So a rare public discord between the two sides which is helping to push S&P 500 futures down -0.45% this morning (down as much as -0.90% earlier). Asian markets are trading mixed with the Nikkei (-0.43%) and ASX (-0.12%) down while the Hang Seng (+0.35%) and Shanghai Comp ( +0.11%) are up. The Kospi is trading broadly flat. In terms of overnight data releases, Japan’s preliminary November PMIs came in weaker than last month with manufacturing at 48.3 (vs. 48.7) and services at 46.7 (vs. 47.7) bringing the composite to 47.0 (vs. 48.0).

Meanwhile, here in the UK, Bloomberg reported that Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is set to squeeze public sector pay for millions of workers as he seeks to rein in government spending. However, health care workers will likely be exempt and the announcement will form part of a spending review that the chancellor will deliver next Wednesday. The Centre for Policy Studies, a conservative think-tank, highlighted that a 3 year pay freeze for all public sector employees would save GBP 23bn while, exempting the NHS staff would cut the savings to GBP 15.3bn.

Back to markets and sovereign bonds performed well yesterday. 10yr Treasury yields in total fell -4.1bps to 0.829% and helped by the late Fed/Treasury spat, while 10yr yields on bunds (-1.7bps), gilts (-1.4bps) and OATs (-1.5bps) similarly fell. The US dollar also lost ground, with the dollar index dropping slightly (-0.02%) to make it a run of 6 successive declines. Once again, the major action was over in Bitcoin however, which was up a further +0.90% to $17,946 yesterday, as the cryptocurrency strengthened for a 4th successive day. The move brings it yet closer to its all-time closing high back in December 2017, when it reached $19,042. Conversely, gold lost ground for a 4th consecutive session, with the precious metal falling a further -0.30% to $1,867/oz.

We also got decent news on vaccine approval yesterday with the EU indicating that BioNTech/ Pfizer and Moderna could receive conditional European Union marketing authorisation for their Covid-19 vaccines in the second half of December. We also heard from Bill Gates overnight and he said that Astra Zeneca should get UK approval soon and was pleased that it had seemingly generated a high immune response. Andrew Pollard, Oxford’s chief trial investigator has said that Astra and Oxford will immediately release the “high-level” results of the trials once they pass the infection benchmark of 53 confirmed Covid-19 cases. Notwithstanding the pause in its trials earlier, the delay in reporting results might indicate a high level of efficacy as it might be taking longer for people to get infected in the company’s Phase 3 study.

In terms of the latest Covid case developments, case numbers have shown some signs of levelling off in many European countries, though there’s no sign of any let-up in the amount of restrictions anytime soon. Indeed, the Dutch government announced yesterday it would make face masks compulsory in indoor public spaces from the start of December. Croatia, one of the few European countries that have been able to put off a second lockdown, announced yesterday that it would tighten measures once again, primarily limiting hours for restaurants and bars as well as urging more work-from-home.

Meanwhile in the US, NYC Mayor de Blasio said that it was “just a matter of time” before indoor dining was stopped in the city, as they grapple with a renewed rise in cases that has already seen their public school system shut which caused the mini risk-off from Wednesday afternoon US time. Governor Cuomo increased restrictions across the state, with the worst positivity rates currently in the western part of the state. On the other side of the country, the Governor of California imposed a curfew that affects 94% of the population in the state from between 10pm and 5am starting this weekend. President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force held its first press briefing yesterday at the White House since April as the cases and hospitalisations continue to surge to record highs in regions across the country. Dr Fauci again urged a national effort to slow the spread offering the optimism of a potential vaccine on the horizon. The task force again noted they are not in favour of a national lockdown but emphasized “mask wearing, social distancing, avoiding congregant settings, doing things to the extent that we can outdoors versus indoors.”

Across the other side of world, South Korea has urged citizens to stay home and cancel gatherings while the government will minimise face-to-face meetings from next week as new infections in the country are on a rise. Japanese PM also sounded an alarm as he said that the country should be on highest alert over the virus. In some better news, South Australia said that it will lift the lockdown early and immediately allow outdoor exercise, amid early signs its cluster of Covid-19 infections is being contained.

Covid also managed to find its way into the Brexit negotiations, where the main development yesterday was that the talks were put on hold after one of the negotiators in the EU team tested positive for the virus. That isn’t the best news on the timing front, since there are just weeks remaining now until the conclusion of the transition period at the end of the year, when the UK leaves the EU’s single market and customs union, and there’s still no agreement on a trade deal. Earlier this week, there had been reports that the breakthrough could come as soon as early next week, meaning there’d be enough time for the text to be translated and ratified. Obviously the latest developments won’t be helping to speed things up however. Barnier was meant to be addressing the EU Ambassadors meeting today but one of his deputies will attend instead. It’ll be interesting to see if this generates headlines.

During a EU leaders’ videoconference yesterday French President Macron and Belgian Prime Minister De Croo asked their counterparts to start contingency planning for a no-deal separation with the UK. Also on the call Hungary and Poland kept to their veto of the $2 trillion stimulus agreed to by leaders back in July. The Polish premier Morawiecki indicated that the conditioning disbursements from the group’s economic recovery fund to rule-of-law conditions would not be in line with EU treaties. EC President Michel, who chaired the meeting, said the commission would work toward a compromise, without elaborating on specifics.

Wrapping up with yesterday’s data, the weekly initial jobless claims from the US ticked up to 742k (vs. 700k expected) in the week through November 14, moving back up from the post-pandemic low of 711k the previous week. That said, the continuing claims for the week through November 7 were slightly better than expectations, at 6.372m (vs. 6.4m expected). Otherwise, existing home sales rose to an annualised rate of 6.85m (vs. 6.47m expected), which is their highest level since 2005.

To the day ahead now, and the data highlights include UK retail sales and public finances for October, along with Germany’s PPI. As well as this, we’ll get the Euro Area’s advance consumer confidence reading for November, and Canada’s September retail sales. Central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Weidmann and Centeno, as well as the Fed’s Kaplan, Barkin, Bostic and George.

Pfizer Asks FDA To Approve COVID-19 Vaccine For Emergency Use

Pfizer Asks FDA To Approve COVID-19 Vaccine For Emergency Use Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 08:03

A few hours after one of China's top state-backed vaccine makers claimed that roughly one million Chinese have already received a COVID-19 vaccine under extremely broad emergency-use criteria, Pfizer has confirmed that it will be applying for emergency-use approval from the FDA on Friday, as was widely expected.

Once the FDA has approved the vaccine - a meeting for review has been scheduled for Dec. 8, 9 and 10 - Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says the first doses of the vaccine could be shipped out within hours of the EUA approval.

During an interview on CNBC Friday morning, reporter Meg Tirrell explained that the FDA needs nearly two weeks to prepare all documents and data for review, which is why the committee tasked with approving the vaccine won't meet until Dec. 8. It's believed that both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines could receive EUAs during the meeting (Moderna says it expects to apply for its EUA in a week or so).

Pfizer says its timeline for approval could see the first doses shipped by the middle of next month.

A "green light" from the FDA would cap the fastest vaccine development program in history. Typically, it takes years for scientists to approve a vaccine. A large swath of the population, including the most vulnerable patients, could be vaccinated by early April, according to an estimated timeline parroted by analysts and government officials.

Pfizer's submission will mark the first time the agency has reviewed an mRNA vaccine, which relies on a revolutionary new technique which essentially reprograms the body's genes to produce antibodies that will fight off COVID. During its Phase 3 trial, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was administered to 19,000 subjects, and at least two months of safety data were collected.

The nature of the FDA's approval is still not clear: The FDA could authorize the vaccine broadly for the US population, or limit it to a specific group such as the elderly or minorities. Pfizer's vaccine - which according to its "final" report is roughly 95% effective (up from 90% in the 'preliminary' data) - must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius, equivalent to -94 degrees Fahrenheit. Pfizer has created a special container to keep the shots cold during distribution. The US government has already agreed to pay Pfizer and BioNTech some $2 billion for 100 million doses of the vaccine, and the companies have struck similar deals with other companies.

1 Million Chinese Have Received COVID-19 Vaccines Under 'Emergency Use' Designation

1 Million Chinese Have Received COVID-19 Vaccines Under 'Emergency Use' Designation Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 07:03

As it turns out, the number of Chinese citizens who have received an experimental COVID-19 vaccine is much larger than the West probably realized. According to SCMP, nearly 1 million Chinese, including troops on peacekeeping missions in coronavirus hotspots, have been given an experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by the state-owned Sinopharm under the government’s emergency-use scheme.

So much for those international scientific standards: China has officially surpassed Russia in the vaccination race, as public health authorities in both countries are using vaccines that are still undergoing clinical trials. And according to Liu Jingzhen, the chairman of China's Sinopharm, there has not been a single case of a "serious adverse event" (ie somebody getting seriously ill, or dying, because of the virus) despite the nearly 1 million infections.

In an interview, Liu boasted about China's "world-leading" vaccine development project.

"In terms of emergency use, the vaccines were applied to nearly a million people and there has not been a single case of a serious adverse event. People have had only mild symptoms,” Liu Jingzhen, chairman of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), said in an interview with a Sichuan-based digital media company that was published on Wednesday.

"Until now, all our progress, from research to clinical trials to production and emergency use, we have been leading the world,” he said.

CanSino CEO Yu Xuefeng said Friday that no infections have been discovered among patients who received his vaccine.

Russia and China are the only two countries actively working to develop a vaccine that have used emergency measures to vaccinate large swaths of their populations. Russian President Vladimir Putin even claimed earlier this year that one of his adult daughters had been inoculated in one of the early-stage trials for the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Institute.

Sinopharm confirmed back in September that the number of patients who had received its vaccine under the "emergency" designation numbered in the hundreds of thousands. China's definition of what constitutes a "high-risk individual", which included not only obvious groups like frontline health professionals, but also school, supermarket and public transport workers.

As Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca release their preliminary data showing the vaccines to be highly effective with only mild side effects, a study published earlier this week in the Lancet showed that the inactivated vaccine produced by Sinovac produced an immune response to the virus, though it wasn't as strong as the response seen in patients who received the American mRNA vaccines, or in infected patients.

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday that authorization and distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could start within weeks, and that the US would have 40 million doses of the two vaccines ready to go by the end of the year. As vaccination criteria expands, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, expects "a large number of people" to be vaccinated by April next year.

While Pfizer, Moderna and other western companies strike deals with the US, EU, Japan and others - on Friday morning Reuters reported on a $10 billion deal between the EU and two vaccine-makers: Pfizer and CureVac. The deal would secure hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccines (provided they're proven effective in the trials).

Chinese vaccine makers are striking deals as well: On Thursday, Turkey announced plans to sign a contract to secure 20 million doses of the vaccine. If the deal is finalized, Turkey will join Brazil as the second country to sign a supply deal with China.

It's certainly interesting how China has sneakily surpassed the west in the race for a vaccine. They've been so successful, we can't help but wonder whether somebody found a critical missing vial in the back of a refrigerator somewhere.

Britain Announces Massive Military Spending Boost, Biggest Since 1991

Britain Announces Massive Military Spending Boost, Biggest Since 1991 Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 05:00

Authored by Mary Clark via The Epoch Times,

Britain has announced an extra £24.1 billion ($31.8 billion) in military spending, as part of the country’s biggest investment in defence since the cold war that ended 30 years ago in 1991.

The spending will be over the next four years, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons on Thursday.

This is £16.5 billion ($21.7 billion) more than was pledged in the government’s 2019 manifesto (pdf), exceeding the amount of the country’s NATO pledge and raising defence spending, Johnson said, to at least 2.2 percent of GDP.

Of Britain’s NATO allies the overall £190 billion ($251 billion) investment is second only to that of the United States, Johnson said.

‘Defend Free and Open Societies’

He added that it serves to protect Britain’s “interests and values” and bolsters the ability to “join the United States and our allies to defend free and open societies.”

The increased spending focuses on space and cyber defence and will create 40,000 new jobs helping the country’s CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus-ravaged economy, the government said in a statement.

By investing in the country’s “fantastic shipyards” the funding will be “spreading prosperity to every corner of the UK,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace leaves 10 Downing Street in London, on Feb. 13, 2020. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Johnson said he had taken the funding decision “in the teeth of the pandemic” because “defence of the realm and the safety of the British people must come first.”

To meet the “evolving threat” since the Cold War the government acknowledged a continuing need to invest in traditional defense while pivoting markedly towards “leading, cutting-edge technology.”

It said this was needed to combat the “increasingly sophisticated ways, including in cyberspace,” of Britain’s self-interested enemies.

“We will modernise the equipment and improve the capability of our world-class Armed Forces and intelligence agencies,” the government said.

“We will adapt to new threats, investing more in cybersecurity and setting up the UK’s first Space Command,” it added.

Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston speaks during a service marking the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at Westminster Abbey in central London on Sept. 20, 2020. (Aaron Chown/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

The government’s emphasis on modernising the military comes following a warning earlier in the week from one of the country’s top defence chiefs of the vital need to understand “what malign actors are doing in space.”

Head of the Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshal, Sir Mike Wigston told the virtual Defence Space Conference 2020 on Tuesday that China’s and Russia’s anti-satellite weapons development threatens both Britain’s critical national security and its everyday life.

‘Unique Operational Advantage’

With countries like China and Russia developing anti-satellite capabilities he said it would be “odd to assume” that “potential adversaries”  would allow the “unique operational advantage” Britain and its allies have enjoyed to continue unhindered.

Johnson said the international military environment is “more intensely competitive” than at any time since the Cold War, but Britain must be true to its history and stand with its allies.

“To achieve this we need to upgrade our capabilities across the board,” he said.

Britain now has a chance “to end the era of retreat, to transform our Armed Forces, bolster our global influence, unite and level up across our country, protect our people and defend the free societies in which we fervently believe,” Johnson told lawmakers.

Though welcoming the new defence funding Leader of the opposition, Labour’s Kier Starmer criticised the government for a “lack of self-awareness” on past under funding and accused Johnson of having delivered a “spending announcement without a strategy.”

He questioned how the funding would be paid for amid, due to the government’s “handling of the pandemic,” the “sharpest economic downturn of any G7 country.”

The funding announcement is the first from the government’s Integrated Review which will conclude next year.

Wallace said the “excellent news” on the funding would give the military the “financial certainty” needed to update, plan, and adapt to modern threats.

Finland's Prime Minister Warns COVID-19 Will Trigger A Populist Backlash

Finland's Prime Minister Warns COVID-19 Will Trigger A Populist Backlash Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 04:15

Finland has fewer confirmed cases of COVID-19 than any of its rival EU members, which has apparently qualified the country's young prime minister, Sanna Marin, to lecture her peers about the dangers of right-wing populism as Brussels clashes with Poland and Hungary over "rule of law" requirements, delaying desperately needed COVID aid.

Marin explained that citizens will ultimately blame the government for imposing all of these COVID-19-inspired restrictions on movement and business, some of which have helped destroy businesses and careers, leaving a swath of pain and misery, aggravated by worsening drug and alcohol abuse.

Finland is the only EU member not to see a resurgence of the virus over the past few months; its average rate of about 40 daily cases per million people has endured for months. Austria's rate is 20x that. The Czech Republic's rate is 15x, while Sweden's rate is 10x.

So, what should European governments do? Marin seems to think that agreeing to a common EU-wide strategy would help. Or at the very least, she believes the strategy would help keep Finland safe, if more European states signed on.

"This will cause protests more and more, and it’s a breeding ground for populist movements across Europe. When you’re closing an economy and people’s workplaces, it will cause political instability. Populists come with easy answers to difficult problems, but their solutions are rarely the right ones," she added.

The common strategy envisioned by Marin would include more comprehensive testing and tracing. More than half of Finland's population is using a government testing and tracing app, which Marin has credited for helping keep infection rates low. However, outside Finland, contact tracing efforts around the world have largely met with mixed results.

She also pitched more travel restrictions, arguing that "we all need to be successful to be safe".

“This is not a competition. We all need to be successful to be safe...In Finland, the situation is more stable, but still we are also more at risk if the virus spreads in other countries."

Whatever benefit populist parties might receive from the pandemic, nothing has happened yet. But Marin believes that the more frustrated the public becomes, the more people will turn toward right-wing populists who have advocated a less restrictive approach focused on the most vulnerable.

Finland has one of the most restrictive policies in Europe governing when travelers must enter quarantine, although adherence during that period is mostly self-policed. While Finland's economy has avoided the massive blowback experienced by its neighbors, Marin insisted that people always need someone or something to blame for their problems.

"I think that the situation might get even worse and people might get even more tired. The situation has got worse in the autumn. People often want to find someone to blame and often the easiest ones to blame are the governments and politicians."

Importantly, Marin said she saw no distinction between protecting individual health and protecting the economy, and that testing - not travel restrictions - is really the key to suppression.

"Testing is key - we need to test people more. This is the key to maintaining the situation under control. We don’t want to stop people from traveling, we want to stop the virus from spreading."

That almost sounds like something Anders Tegnell, the architect of Sweden's no-lockdown approach, might say.

German Doctor Raided By Armed Police During Live YouTube Stream

German Doctor Raided By Armed Police During Live YouTube Stream Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 03:30

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

Shocking footage out of Germany shows Doctor Andreas Noack being raided by armed police in the middle of a YouTube stream for apparently violating coronavirus laws.

The clip shows Noack in conversation with someone during the live stream before he is distracted by noises outside his door.

Banging is then heard along with screams of “Polizei!” before armed cops are seen entering and ordering Noack to get on the floor, as he is treated like some kind of violent terrorist.

As Noack is handcuffed, a police officer in a mask then appears to try to shut down the live stream but only succeeds in diverting the camera.

Speculation raged on Twitter as to the reason for the raid, with some suggesting Noack had been active in treating injured protesters at anti-lockdown demonstrations.

Others suggested the reason was that Noack had welcomed too many people into his house, violating COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.

“I think the guy is guilty of expressing his opinions,” said another respondent.

“They’ve turned back the clock to the 1930’s,” remarked another.

“Insanity!” commented another.

Germany has seen numerous massive anti-lockdown protests, including one yesterday in Berlin during which police hit protesters with water cannons.

As we previously highlighted, a pregnant mother in Australia received a home visit and was arrested by police for the crime of helping to organize an anti-lockdown protest on Facebook.

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The UK's Uneven Jobs Recovery

The UK's Uneven Jobs Recovery Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 02:45

The latest figures from the REC reveal a continued uneven jobs recovery across the UK.

The North West as well as Wales and Northern Ireland have shown solid growth in October when compared to the amount of active job postings in March before the pandemic really hit the economy. As Statista's Martin Armstrong details below, there were almost 40 percent more adverts recorded in the North West in October than there were in the early spring.

 The UK's uneven jobs recovery | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

In the first week of November there were 1.4 million active postings across the country - surpassing levels recorded in Early March. This expansion has chiefly been led by a small handful of areas though, with the likes of London and the West Midlands still lagging behind. In terms of job sectors, largest growth has been seen in 'food and drink manufacturing', 'LGV drivers' and 'nurses' while falls persist in the hospitality industry.

Looking forward, Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said:

“What we need to do now is support businesses who can to create jobs, and help people who have lost work to transition into those new roles. With the stark difference in demand across different regions, avoiding a skills mismatch will require serious planning."

While acknowledging the crucial role recruiters will play in this, Carberry also highlighted the need for effective action in Westminster, adding:

"Government can also help by reducing barriers to creating jobs through tax policy and regulatory change – like keeping the online right-to-work checking we have moved to in the pandemic. Broadening the apprenticeship levy would also allow workers to train and fill skill gaps in the longer-term. Some hard-pressed sectors with high demand – like food manufacturing – also need the new immigration system to reflect the severe shortages they are facing.”

Rising Up - Anti-Lockdown Protests Spread Across Europe

Rising Up - Anti-Lockdown Protests Spread Across Europe Tyler Durden Fri, 11/20/2020 - 02:00

Via Off-Guardian.org,

As the alleged “second wave” of the Coronavirus “pandemic” is reported to be sweeping across Europe in recent weeks, many governments have enthusiastically embraced their totalitarian side and granted themselves sweeping new “emergency powers” alongside new lockdown measures.

The public has been markedly less co-operative this time around. Rebelling against the seemingly arbitrary limitations which are not supported by either science or common sense. Protests have taken place all across the continent.

GERMANY

Thousands of people gathered in Berlin over the last few days, protesting the Merkel government passing a new lockdown law. Police turned water cannons on the crowds, and nearly 200 people were arrested.

The mainstream reported “hundreds” of protesters, but as pictures plainly show it was more like tens of thousands:

SPAIN

After the Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez declared a sixth-month state of emergency in late October, there were days of protests across the country.

Barcelona, already a hot-bed of anti-government feeling due to the brutal repression of the Catalan Independence referendum, saw violent confrontations between riot police and protestors

FRANCE

Emmanuel Macron’s brand new “comprehensive security law”, known by protesters as the “gag law”, would further militarise French police whilst making it a crime to capture or distribute the image of police officer. It has met fervent resistance in the shape of angry marches through cities across the country.

Macron’s government has a history of attacking civil liberties, and in response to his “reforms” the country has seen large-scale protests by the Gilets Jaunes for over a year.

ITALY

The anti-lockdown protests in Italy reached a fever pitch in late October, and were probably the most extensive on the continent. Marches occurred in dozens of cities across the country, including Rome, Naples, Genoa and Bologna.

The mainstream media went out fo their way to undercut and smear the protests. CNN and Reuters reported only “hundreds” of protesters. Does this photo have “hundreds” of people in it?

Politico went so far as to actually blame the protests on the Mafia.

SLOVAKIA

Bratislava was home to a huge march of protesters on November 17th, marking the national holiday known as Fight for Freedom Day. These marches were illegal under the Slovakian emergency law, notionally designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

DENMARK

The Danish parliament was subject to 9 days of protests right outside its doors, in opposition to the proposed “vaccination law”, which would allow the police to “physically coerce vaccination through detainment”.

After nine days of protests, it was reported on social media that the Danish gov’t had dropped the law. However, I could find no official confirmation of that, or reports in the media.

In fact, the media have barely covered the proposed law, and literally not mentioned the protests in Copenhagen at all. A search for “Covid protests Denmark” on google, turns up almost no results relating to that topic.

The reason to cover the Danish protest less than the others is that they apparently worked. and the last thing the establishment wants people to see is that civil disobedience can change anything.

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It’s good to see the general public’s fraying sense of patience with a Covid narrative that has never made any sense, and a “pandemic response” which is likely to do far more damage than it ever could prevent.

Though civil unrest is undeniably a good and powerful thing, this is also a time to be wary. If the establishment feel they are losing control of the situation or the narrative, they are likely to double down or try something desperate.

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